The Best Short-Scale Bass

A short-scale bass is an excellent option if you are a guitarist switching to bass, a new player, or want a slightly different sound. We have reviewed the best short-scale bass guitars available today.

Short-scale bass guitars often have a bad reputation. Many people think that they are only for beginners or children. However, they are pretty versatile instruments. They can be used by new and young players and more experienced musicians. Therefore, you have come to the proper place if you are seeking a short-scale bass guitar. Here are our eight favorite short-scale bass guitars.

Quick Picks: Best Short-Scale Bass

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Gretsch is a name that is synonymous with quality. The Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet is no exception. This bass has a solid basswood top and body, which gives you lovely, rich tones.

You can use either or both of the miniature dual-coil pickups on this bass. It is simple to pick up and play. The length of the scale is approximately 76 centimeters. Rosewood is used in the construction of the fingerboard. Each of the 20 frets feels comfortable when you play it.


  • neck plays well
  • frets are comfortable
  • easy to setup/intonate


  • a bit neck heavy


You can get the quality of a Gibson guitar at the price of an Epiphone. You’ll get the classic SG tone you love without spending too much money. Plus, you’ll enjoy the single Sidewinder bass pickup for a warm, vintage bass tone.

The mahogany body and neck create a deep and resonant bass tone. The neck is narrow, making it easy to play. The double-cutaway design on the body allows you to reach every fret on the 30.5″ scale length neck.


  • good intonation
  • no fret buzz
  • low action


  • some reports that the cloth of the string may touch the saddle, causing a buzz
  • factory strings don’t sound great


The Fender Mustang PJ Bass is a unique and wonderful-sounding instrument. It has a solid alder body that gives it a full sound with lots of mids and lows. The f-saddle hard-tail bridge also helps to keep the bass in tune and gives it plenty of sustain.

The pickups on this bass are exciting. You have a staggered, single-coil neck and bridge pickup configuration. It means that you can use either one or both at the same time. The scale length of this bass is just 30″, and it is perfect for anyone wanting to start learning how to play bass.


  • perfect for small hands
  • unique pickup configuration
  • Fender quality


  • reports of a small amount of fret buzz


The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro 3/4 Sized Bass is very compact and lightweight. It weighs under 7 lbs and has a scale length of just 28.6″! This bass would be perfect for a starter, a child, or someone who wants to travel with their instrument. You can often find this bass for less than $200!

The Agathis top on this bass has a similar sound to mahogany. You can expect warm and mellow tones from this bass. The maple neck and rosewood fretboard make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a good bass tone. With three pickups and tuning knobs, you can control your sound however you want. Take this bass with you wherever you go!


  • super affordable
  • sounds and feels great while playing
  • super short scale length


  • No switch to change pickups. Have to adjust volume per pickup


The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro 3/4 Sized Bass is very compact and lightweight. It weighs under 7 lbs and has a scale length of just 28.6″! This bass would be perfect for a starter, a child, or someone who wants to travel with their instrument. You can often find this bass for less than $200!

The Agathis top on this bass has a similar sound to mahogany. You can expect warm and mellow tones from this bass. The maple neck and rosewood fretboard make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a good bass tone. With three pickups and tuning knobs, you can control your sound however you want. Take this bass with you wherever you go!


  • only five-string on this list
  • Mikro goes through the same QC process as all Ibanez instruments
  • the neck is comfortable to play


  • Ibanez only offers one type of string. If you want a different kind, you will have to find them from another manufacturer
  • The stock B string is a little floppy but playable


Fender has been included on this list again. Like Ibanez, they offer multiple short-scale basses that are both excellent choices. The Squier Bronco Bass has an Agathis body, which gives a similar tone to mahogany. You can expect some meaty mids and thundering lows out of this instrument.


  • great action
  • comfortable “C” shaped neck
  • affordable


  • Reports that the pickup may need to be replaced with one a little more powerful


This Dean short-scale bass is a great deal. It is a less expensive guitar that looks, feels, and plays like a more expensive one. You will be happy with this purchase.

The mahogany body and maple neck give a rich and warm tone, as you would expect from a good-quality bass guitar. The 30″ scale neck makes each jumbo fret on the fretboard easier to play. Top this off with a set of single-coil humbucking pickups to get the sound you want.


  • flat finish is beautiful
  • sounds smooth
  • s and knobs are high quality


  • Frets may need to be filed down before playing.


The Hofner Contemporary Club Bass is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. If for nothing else, this bass will look fabulous in any home, studio, or stage. It has a unique tone because the Spruce top and body combine. The rosewood fingerboard makes it easy to play.

This short-scale bass guitar is perfect for anyone who wants a fat tone. The neck pickup gives off a pleasant sound, while the bridge pickup can be used to create an overdrive effect.


  • pickups are super responsive
  • narrow neck


  • high action due to design, not setup


To pick a guitar for small hands, you will still want to consider many of the same things as other guitarists. For example, you’ll want to think about the soundboard material and the quality of the build. However, given that you have little hands, there are a few things you might want to take into account.


A full-length bass guitar’s scale length usually is around 34 inches. The scale length of a short-scale bass is 30 inches or less. A medium-sized bass’s scale length is usually about 32 inches.


The scale length of a guitar, bass, acoustic, electric or other instrument is the distance from the nut. It is where you put your fingers on the strings, to the other end, where the strings go (the bridge). The instrument’s scale length will be 30″ or shorter when you have a short-scale bass.


Short-scale basses are valuable for a lot of reasons. The most popular reason is that they are smaller and lighter. That makes them ideal for kids and people who don’t have a lot of upper body strength. The lighter weight is more comfortable for anyone.


The actual skill of playing is the same as any other instrument. It would help if you had time, dedication, and practice. It makes it easier to hold and move around. Also, the shorter scale length of a guitar means that the strings don’t need as much tension to stay in tune, so it takes less effort to fret and hold down the strings while playing.

It can be a little bit easier for guitarists to play the bass if the fretboard is shorter. It is because the frets are closer together on a short-scale bass guitar. It is similar to a standard guitar fretboard, making the transition less awkward. Short-scale and 3/4-length guitars are good for guitarists with small hands, but short-scale bass guitars are good for bassists with small hands. They are also more compact and easier to travel with.


There are three types of bass guitars: short scale, medium scale, and long scale. The average length of a short-scale bass is 30″ or under. A medium-scale bass is around 32″. And a long scale, or standard length, the bass is 34″ or higher.

Another difference between long and short-scale basses is the strings. The long-scale bass guitar has thinner strings, while the short-scale bass has thicker strings. It is because a longer-scale instrument needs to keep more tension, and it is easier to do that with a thinner string.


A bass or guitar can be tuned in a variety of ways. The standard tuning for a bass or guitar is E-A-D-G. However, tuning your E string flat for a short-scale bass guitar is recommended. It is because the short-scale bass goes sharp when fretting the string. You will only notice this on the E string.

You don’t need any special strings. You can use a higher gauge set of standard bass strings. The most often recommended gauge is 45-100.


When choosing your instrument, there are some things you will want to pay attention to. These include the sound’s quality, the instrument’s durability, and how easy it is to play.


You want to be comfortable while playing. Finding a comfortable guitar to hold, both in size and weight, is essential.


The typical string gauge for a short-scale bass is 45-100. You can experiment with different gauges to find a sound and playing style that you are comfortable with.


Tonewood is the type of wood used to make an instrument. Different types of wood have different grains, densities, and ways they resonate. It affects the tone of the instrument. You should be familiar with the tonewoods used to make the bass and what kind of tone they produce.


The neck is significant to the sound of your bass. You should know what wood it is made of to choose your instrument. You should also check the width and shape to make it comfortable to play with.


If you buy a short-scale bass because your hands are smaller, the nut width is the most important thing to consider. It measures how wide the nut is from one side to the other. The width will gradually increase as you go down the fretboard.


Bass guitar necks come in three distinct forms: “U” (or “V”), “V” (or “C”), and “C” shaped. The “C”-shaped neck is the most comfortable and natural feeling shape.


Different materials are used for the fingerboard on bass guitars. Rosewood is famous, but choosing the right material for the sound and style you’re going for is important.


Some bass guitars come with pickups that are good enough. However, some cheaper guitars have pickups that aren’t as good. You can ask people at your local music shop which pickups sound the best for your style and instrument.


Bass guitars are heavy, even short-scale ones. You will probably want a good strap. Will you play with a pick or pluck with your fingers? Different techniques require different gear or no gear at all.

If you play with other people, you will need a case or gigbag to protect your bass. If you only play at home, a stand will be okay. If your bass is electric, you will need a good amp. You may also want some effects and cables. Make a list of what gear you need and want.


Find out how much money you can spend on a bass guitar. ONLY look at bass guitars within that price range, and find something awesome for you.

What Is a Short-Scale Bass Guitar?

A guitar’s “scale” is the string’s vibrating length from the bridge to the nut. The scale length of a standard electric or acoustic guitar is generally between 24.75 inches (most Gibsons) and 25.5 inches (most Fenders).

The Precision Bass was released by Fender Musical Instruments in 1951, with a 34-inch scale that has remained the standard for bass guitars. On the other hand, some of Fender’s rivals created basses with substantially shorter scale lengths. These are referred to as “short-scale” bass guitars.

For long years, small-scale basses were unpopular among musicians, who preferred bigger instruments.

But why was it the case?

One explanation for this is that many of them were directed at students. Thus they earned the reputation of being intended for youngsters. As a result, they were less appealing to pros and the larger market of players that followed them.

However, this has been changed. Short-scale basses are a feasible alternative since they have a distinct tone and a smaller, more playable neck.

The Benefits of Playing a Short-Scale Bass

The physical size of a small-scale bass is the most apparent reason to play one. The shorter neck, with less fret spacing and more compact body proportions, makes the short-scale bass an excellent option for guitarists with little hands.

It’s also more comfortable for a guitarist who wants to play bass since the smaller scale more closely mimics the size of the instrument.

That means that playing techniques that are difficult on a long-scale bass, like wide intervals that strain the hand or dramatic string bends, are much easier on a short-scale bass. Full chords are also conceivable.

Another significant benefit of a small-scale bass is its distinct tone. Despite its tiny size, it can generate a thick, deep sound different from a bigger bass and fits nicely in a mix.

It’s simply a matter of physics. When a string is plucked, it vibrates unusually—producing the desired fundamental note and numerous higher harmonic frequencies. The combination of all harmonics determines an instrument’s tone color.

This harmonic mix alters when the string length is reduced or increased about its thickness. The E string’s 12th fret and the A string’s 7th fret are the same pitch. They sound different.

The same note has a different sound.

Furthermore, the tone’s color varies as a string’s tension increases or decreases. When you tune the G string to D, it sounds considerably different due to the reduced tension.

A small-scale bass has shorter strings and less tension than a large-scale bass. These distinctions combine to provide a darker, thicker sound in short-scale basses.

Is Short Scale Electric Guitar Playing Right for You?

When a stringed instrument’s scale length is mentioned, it refers to the distance between the bridge pickup and the nut on the guitar. The scale length does not correspond to the size of the guitar’s neck! Remember the bridge and the nut!

The standard bass guitar has a 34-inch scale length. However, small-scale bass guitars have a 31-inch scale length.

When comparing short-scale bass guitars to long-scale bass guitars, you will see that short-scale bass guitars have shorter necks, less gap between frets, and are generally more compact.

When you physically handle a small-scale bass guitar, you will notice that it has a distinct feel from a large-scale bass guitar. This difference in feel is evident if you’re accustomed to handling long-scale bass guitars. Still, it will feel entirely natural in your hands if you’ve never dealt with a long-scale bass before.

Short-scale bass guitars have distinct sonic qualities compared to large-scale bass guitars. When you play a note on a bass guitar, that note is accompanied by a succession of harmonics that give each instrument a distinct sound. The level and tone of the harmonics will alter as the length of the strings varies. The higher harmonics will have less loudness as the string length decreases.

If you tune a small-scale bass guitar with a pair of conventional bass strings, the strings will be less tense than if you tune a regular bass guitar with the same strings. Using a pair of standard bass strings on a short-scale bass will give the strings a looser feel, affecting the instrument’s dynamic range, attack, and sustain. Finding small-scale bass guitar strings that suit your short-scale bass will be simple!

Selecting the Best Short-Scale Bass (Buying Guide)

This post section will discuss small-scale bass guitars and how to select the best one for you.

Components and Features

Therefore, you must first understand that the bass guitar comprises several distinct components and characteristics. Some qualities are better suited to various genres of music, so select your bass based on the music you want to play. Except if you are a beginning musician just starting, You likely already know how you’ll employ a small-scale bass.

Body Form and Material

You must have a rudimentary awareness of diverse body types and the materials used to construct the body.

The form of the bass does not necessarily have a large influence on the sound. However, it significantly affects your playing style and posture, which are crucial. Getting a short-scale guitar is generally the best option in terms of weight and playability. The most popular form of bass is one with a solid body. The solid-body guitar, comprised of solid pieces of wood, has more excellent sustain than a hollow-body guitar but is somewhat heavier. There are hollow and semi-hollow basses on the market. Still, I believe solid-body basses are currently the best option.

It is essential that the design of the guitar complements your posture and helps you feel at ease, either standing or seated.

The second critical component is the body material, which influences the bass’s sound and the instrument’s durability. The particular materials are lighter and more prone to damage than heavier and sturdier ones. I like something light yet with an excellent sound or a combination of the two. The properties sought in wood are those that offer perfect resonance, tone, and playability. The tone produced by the bass is significantly influenced by the solidity or softness of the wood. Harder woods provide a more forceful and brilliant tone, while softer woods are more resonant and mellow. It all boils down to personal choice. Because of their qualities and inexpensive cost, certain materials are becoming more popular than others.

Maple, mahogany, poplar, basswood, and alder are the most regularly utilized woods.

Maple is a heavy wood with medium hardness and density, excellent sustain, and a warm sound emphasizing low-mid and lower-range tones.

Basswood has a short sustain and is quite affordable. Basswood is becoming increasingly well-liked among companies due to its low price and wide availability.

Poplar has tone properties comparable to alder but is somewhat brighter. Poplar is a soft/light hardwood of comparable grade to basswood.

Mahogany is a hefty wood with medium hardness and density, excellent sustain, and a warm sound emphasizing low-mid and lower-range tones. Mahogany-bodied basses may be costly.

The majority of P-basses are built of alder. Alder soon gained popularity in the bass guitar world because of its balanced tone, outstanding clarity, and warm sound.

Additional types of wood are available, but these are the most likely to be encountered. Aside from expert hands, tonewood is what makes the bass sing. You don’t have to worry about weight with short-scale basses, but you should still consider your shape when selecting a bass.

Nut, Fretboard, and Frets

You must also know the different kinds of necks and fretboards. Because your fingers will fly all over the fretboard, the materials used to make these components are critical. The polish of the neck and fretboard may have a significant influence on the instrument’s playability.

The neck transmits string sound to the bass body and pickups while fitting comfortably in the palm. A multitude of mechanisms is utilized to connect the neck to the body. Some are more trustworthy than others, while others are more costly and are seldom encountered on less-priced instruments.

The bolt-on neck system is the most often utilized method. The bolt-on neck design is the most common. The neck is secured onto the body using nuts to restrict it from moving about. This neck provides excellent string vibration, sustain, and stability. Bolt-on necks are the most prevalent form of neck found on low-cost and some higher-priced bass guitars.

Other neck systems, such as set neck and thru-body neck, can be found on high-end basses. Set-necks are more dependable and better than bolt-ons but are also more complicated to install. The thru-body neck is the greatest choice since it works best but is also costly.

The kind of wood used to construct the bass is at the core of its tone. That, I believe, is now abundantly evident. Tonewood is tough; you may have many guitars manufactured from the same piece, and they will all respond differently. That is why the material of the neck is so essential; when combined with the body of the bass, you get a wide range of variations.

To my knowledge, maple and rosewood are the most widely utilized woods for necks. While maple has a clear, brilliant tone and is generally bright in color, rosewood is the polar opposite of maple, with a warm, mellow sound due to its softness.

Apart from the neck, the fretboard is the next significant component. The fretboard material, frets, and nuts affect playability and sound. Why are they significant? The fretboard is a piece of wood attached to the top of the neck, and the frets, in conjunction with the nut, control the transmission of string vibrations to the bass’s body. Therefore, a pleasant-sounding and playable instrument are produced when the fretboard and frets are well-crafted.

Maple and rosewood are the most widely utilized woods for fretboards. Rosewood is of high quality and is generally brown, with a warm, rich tone, while maple is white and has a more percussive sound. Both tonewoods have unique qualities that suit some playing styles more than others.

The frets are tiny wire strips set at exact distances along the fingerboard. Basses typically feature 21, 22, or 24 frets, depending on the scale length. Jumbo frets are common on basses. The size of the fret affects playability; jumbo frets, for example, give greater playability and sustain since pressing the strings is easier. Together with the nut, they may do wonders for your sound or vice versa.

The nut’s density matters because it transfers vibration to the wood. Each substance has advantages, but in my experience, bone nuts are the finest. It’s a good thing you can swap them to test out various ones and find which one works best for your playing style.

Radius and Scale Length

The distance between the nut and the bridge is the scale length. Why is it significant? Because it has a significant influence on the instrument’s playability and tone. The pitch affects the tone produced by the strings; the longer the strings, the lower the pitch. There are short (30-32″), medium (32-34″), and extra-long (36″ or more) scale basses in addition to the standard “long-scale” basses with a 34″ scale. Not all scale lengths are identical, and there are no set guidelines between bass and string makers, so it’s something to keep in mind. Many players struggle with string length selection, so you should know your scale length.

The radius is the circle’s curvature, and its minuscule portion corresponds to the fingerboard’s width. A circle with a radius of 12″ produces a fingerboard radius of 12″, which is somewhat flatter than a 9.5″ radius on the same-width fingerboard. The lower the measurement, the higher the curvature, and vice versa. What is the significance of this? Because radius affects playability, a larger radius is better for single-note playing. In comparison, a smaller radius is better for chord playing.

What’s the Difference Between a Bass Guitar With a Short Scale and One With a Long Scale?

Some of Fender’s rivals, such as Gibson, offered basses with lower scale lengths in the early days of electric basses. These more finger-friendly basses are known as “short scale” because their scale length is 31′′ or less.

The Hofner Violin bass was one of the most recognized small-scale basses back in the day. Walter Hofner designed it in 1955, with a 30″ scale length and a distinctive violin form. Craftsmen at Hofner, who were accustomed to creating classical instruments, utilized their experience to develop a bass with a traditional appearance. The Violin Bass gained popularity when Paul McCartney of the Beatles began playing with it in the mid-1970s. It has been a mainstay in the field of short-scale basses ever since.

Fender also joined the small-scale sector in the mid-1960s with the Mustang Bass, which achieved cult status when it was discontinued in 1981. They began manufacturing in 2002, but it gained momentum in 2011 when Fender introduced a variant in their Squier range. It has stayed in Fender’s permanent line-up in various variants since then. The Fender Bronco Bass, introduced in the mid-1960s, was another short-scale choice that never quite lived up to the fame of the Mustang bass. In 1981, manufacturing was discontinued. However, the Bronco bass has lately made a comeback in the bass world.

The fundamental distinction between the short scale and the larger long scale is that the short scale is often used as a kid instrument. That reduced the cool appeal of the small-scale bass, causing more serious players to gravitate toward long-scale basses. There was a small-scale bass boom in the 1960s, but most of the instruments were cheaply made, with weak electronics and hardware, which is why many players avoided them. They were also targeted at the student market. Thus the short-scale bass developed a reputation as an instrument for youngsters.

On the other hand, the short-scale bass guitar is back and hotter than ever. A growing number of players are choosing smaller basses that are just as well made with solid components and produce a wonderful sound as their larger counterparts.

Why Buy a Short-Scale Bass?

The physical size of a small-scale bass is the first and most evident reason to use one. Short-scale basses are ideal for musicians with little hands because of their shorter necks, shorter fret spacing, and more compact overall dimensions. If you’re a guitarist looking to branch out into bass, they are ideal since their small scale makes it seem like you’re playing something between a bass and a guitar, making a move simpler. However, you would choose an instrument solely based on its size. One of its key selling points is the powerful sound with a thick low-end that small-scale basses can produce. Serious musicians and studio experts have long known about the benefits of short-scale basses.

The fact that each bass note is accompanied by a series of harmonics .whose ratios are predictable is a simple illustration of how the short scale behaves differently from the long scale. Because harmonics contribute to an instrument’s distinct tone and feel, when the string length is reduced, the tonal qualities of those harmonics alter.

It is readily evident on any stringed instrument. Play an E, for instance, on the low E string’s 12th fret. Then, on the seventh fret of the A string, play the same note. Although the tones are identical, the harmonics are not. Because the low E string is shorter at the 12th fret, the E played there is darker than the E played on the A string. Short-scale basses are intrinsically darker and, perhaps, deeper in tone than long-scale basses due to their shorter scale length.

Another advantage of a small-scale bass over a large-scale bass is its unique sound. Traditionally, small-scale basses were outfitted with the same string sets as long-scale basses. On the other hand, the strings on a short-scale bass are under less strain due to their shorter length. The strings have a looser, somewhat “floppy” feel, affecting the instrument’s feel, attack, sustain, and dynamics. Many string makers began manufacturing strings that behave more like regular strings on a long-scale instrument for players seeking a tighter feel. Even with those strings, a small-scale bass has a dark tone with a more concentrated bottom end.

Furthermore, tiny-scale basses allow you to use difficult techniques to execute on big-scale basses. Long intervals between distant notes become more bearable as the neck becomes more compact. The small fingerboard is ideal for fast, 16-note bass lines. Full chords are also much easy to play and cause no difficulty. Because the strings are loosened, you can bend the strings on a small-scale bass without damaging your fingers. All of this makes the short-scale bass playable and desirable in the bass world.

The Short Scale’s Versatility and Playability

You could be pleasantly surprised by how much you can do with a small-scale guitar if you decide to purchase one. People may believe you are limited by the shorter scale, which is true in some ways, but it may also be advantageous in others.

A short scale is essential for beginning bass players. It is just more convenient to play and learn your way around the fretboard this way. Even though I have large hands, I struggled with long-scale basses as a youngster. Because of the height and length of the neck on five-string bass guitars, practicing would be difficult. It paid off in my situation since I learned how to mute the strings while playing precise things correctly, but practicing wasn’t as simple and fluid as it might be on a short scale. Long gigs on a small scale are a piece of cake. It means so much to have that little bit of unnecessary weight removed.

You can play a variety of musical genres with ease. You’re restricted in soloing, but if you’re a grooved head, it has enough notes to meet your needs, particularly if you acquire a five-string. Transitioning from a short scale to a 34″ long scale bass will only help you appreciate playing more; you’ll notice it as an improvement.

Traveling on a Small Scale

It is considerably simpler to move and travel on a smaller scale. As a touring musician, it was always difficult for me to transport my large hard case with my massive bass. I felt like I was holding a toy or a real electric guitar when I purchased a short-scale bass. It makes traveling much simpler, particularly if you constantly move from one location to the next with a lot of stuff.

Read more: How the Electric Guitar Became a Way of Music

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Short-Scale Bass

Why Are Short-Scale Basses Better?

Short-scale basses have less tension than regular basses. It makes them easier to play and fret. They also feel looser, which some players prefer.

Is a Short-Scale Bass Easier to Play?

Short-scale guitars cause less fatigue when played for long periods. They have shorter necks, closer frets, and are lighter in weight. In addition to their size and weight differences, short-scale basses also sound unique!

Should I Learn on a Short-Scale Bass?

Short-scale basses have a more focused low-end than standard basses. Therefore, depending on your physiology, comfort level with the instrument, and preferred tonality, you should decide whether to start on a short-scale bass. A smaller bass is not a quick way to pick up the bass quicker. It might simply be a better instrument option for you.

Does Acoustic Guitar Sound Good With Bass?

A conventional 4- or 5-string electric bass will usually sound different enough from acoustic guitars to fit in. Still, the most important consideration is whether the tonal spectrum of the bass sits well with the guitar.

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