Best Short Scale Bass Guitar Review- The Ultimate Buying Guide

The longer length and heavier weight of regular bass guitar – that’s the reason people feel reluctant to learn and play bass guitar. Mostly, youngster and aspiring bassists with small hands felt difficulty while gripping of the bass guitar.

But, just for this, one shouldn’t stop playing their favorite instrument. Right in here, the best short scale bass guitar comes into consideration. The short-scale guitar is a perfect choice for people struggling with the size of the regular bass guitar.

The scale of a short-scale bass ranges around 30 to 31 inches in length. It offers a more controllable playing experience with a playable neck. Also, they are quite portable, affordable, and make excellent tones that fit many musical genres.

The famous rock music bands, Paul McCartney and Talking Heads, have been using it over the years. It made the market of short-scale bass wider and popular. In this competitive market, finding a suitable short-scale bass is quite tricky. 

You don’t worry; in this article, we’ve assembled the best short scale bass guitars of the market. So hold your horses and pick one that you find easier to play.

What is a short scale bass?

Introducing the short scale bass

In terms of bass guitars, scale length denotes the nut and the bridge’s distance. Some people mistakenly think it as the length of the neck, which is not true.

The scale length in a regular acoustic or electric guitar is among 24.75” and 25.5”. This length is around 34” in a regular full-scale bass guitar. In a short-scale guitar, the length is shorter than 31”.

Short-scale bass utilizes a somewhat heavier string gauge than its long-scale counterparts. That’s what produces a thicker tone. It requires lower string tension for proper intonation. One of the reasons to play short-scale is the compact physical size.

The best part is it can generate a peculiar tone, unlike standard-length bass guitars. You can comfortably produce fat and deep sound. The smaller neck, compact body, and minimum distance between frets make it an excellent choice for young guitarists.

In a hurry? Here are our top picks..

If you are in a rush and would like to know more about our top short-scale bass, give the following comparison table a quick check.

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Reviews of the Best Short Scale Bass of 2021

There are plenty of big names that manufacture short-scale bass guitars.  Here we’ve done the research, so you make an informed decision. Now, let’s check out some of the best options your money can buy. 

Best Overall Short Scale Bass

Ibanez GSRM25BK 5 String Bass Guitar

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The Ibanez GSRM25BK is the best overall short scale bass guitar for a good reason. Don’t get fooled by its exterior as many people mistakenly think of it as a toy. Its 28.6” short-scale length is an ideal length for children and guitarist with smaller physique.

Let’s learn more about it.

Body Material and Neck

The Ibanez GSRM25BK is made with the same standards as other GIO series guitars. It comes with a compact and lightweight body. The lightweight body makes it easy to transport and easy on the shoulders.

Then, its mahogany tonewood contributes to excellent sustainability as well as a deep tone. The guitar includes a slim and fast short-scale maple neck.

The combination of standard J neck, rosewood fingerboard, and mahogany body makes the guitar streamlined. All in all, the compact design put comfort and the forefront of the guitar. 


The bass is equipped with dynamic P pickups. There are separate volume and tone control knobs for enhanced tonal ability. Also, it has a high-quality B15 bridge. The distance between the nut and bridge is perfect for small hands.  

Sound and Performance

The Ibanez GSRM25BK offers a big low-end performance while keeping its size compact. Besides, you can produce an enhanced sound through the control knobs. It provides a tone similar to high-end Ibanez guitars.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Mahogany
  • Pickups: Dynamic P
  • Scale length: 6”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: B15
  • Weight: 7lb

Reasons to Pick

  • High-quality construction
  • A range of sounds
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Generate a warm tone
  • Easy to transport
  • Great for small hands
  • Affordable price

Any Drawbacks?

  • Probable feedback from the amplifier
  • Too small for some

Best Budget Short Scale Bass Guitar

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right (GSRM20BS)

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Do you feel your bass is too heavy and big? Look no further; the Ibanez GSRM20BS will ensure low end with minimum weight and size. The model resembles features the same as our previous Ibanez bass. But it has four strings and a different appearance.

Here is more about the Ibanez GSRM20BS 4 string bass guitar.

Body Material and Neck

The model is one of the best additions of the Ibanez Soundgear series. Its compact body and smaller neck get you relief from neck and back issues.  The body and back are made of poplar and Agathis, respectively. The poplar body is durable but lightweight at a time.

A slim 28.6” maple neck is large enough for comfort and short enough for smaller hands. It is the best choice for an effortless but faster-playing style. Moreover, the model number BS denotes the black sunburst color.


The dynamic P pickup is divided into two sections. One section goes to E and A strings while other sections to D and G strings. It is designed in a way that offers humbucking action while maintaining the single-coil sound. It helps to produce a noticeable tone to your fingertips.

Besides, the Hardtail Bridge features more traditional Dynamic J single-coil design. The bridge has individual string saddles that allow for accurate intonation. Also, the spacing between strings is about 0.75 inches.

With adjustable pole pieces, each pickup has separate volume and tone control. Both the control knobs are chrome. Lastly, the Ibanez includes equally lightweight round-wound strings that can buzz.

Sound and Performance

The combination of Jacoba fingerboard and red-brown hardwood produces a crisp high end and rich midrange. Also, the pickups provide classic fat and a compelling tone. You may replace existing strings with a set of heavier gauge flat wounds for a solid tone.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Poplar
  • Pickups: Dynamic P
  • Scale length:6”
  • Fingerboard: Jacoba
  • Bridge: Hardtail
  • Weight:9lb

Reasons to Pick

  • Perfect for smaller arms
  • Impressive sustain
  • Compact and contoured body
  • Offers excellent balance and comfort

Any Drawbacks?

  • Existing strings can buzz

Jackson JS-Series Concert Bass Minion JS1X Bass Guitar

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With the Jackson JS Series bass guitar on hand, you can rule the stage. It is easy to go too far when rocking with this well-balanced, short-scale bass. Besides, the Jackson JS series JS1X is the best runner up short scale bass guitar on the market.

Let’s know why!

Body Material and Neck

The Jackson JS1X is built with supreme Jackson quality and their 30 years of expertise. You’ll get killer tonewoods as well as high-output electronics. Its lighter poplar body features a black satin finish.

However, the guitar looks iconic with Jackson’s headstock and a sleek look. It has a 1-piece maple neck along with graphite reinforcement rods. The 28.6 scale length is perfect for young players who need a bass that travels easy.


The JS1X features 12” radius Amaranth fingerboard along with Pearloid sharkfin inlays. Besides, the fingerboard pairs with 22-jumbo frets. There are 2 single coil pickups, including a Jackson P-style neck pickup and Jackson J-style bridge pickup.

Each pickup uses individual volume controls as well as a master-tone control knob. This pickup combination offers maximum versatility. The Hardtail Bridge with a black base is fully adjustable and reliable sounding. It helps to keep the tune and sustain as long as you want.

Sound and Performance

The blend of Jackson P/J pickup ensures a thick and detailed bass tone in your home studio. Besides, the sound and feel of the bass are stable and steady.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Poplar
  • Pickups: Jackson P style single-coil and Jackson J style single-coil
  • Scale length:6”
  • Fingerboard: Amaranth
  • Bridge: Hardtail
  • Weight: 11lb

Reasons to Pick

  • Supreme Jackson build-quality
  • Ultimate control
  • Versatility
  • The solid and steady sound
  • 22-frets in a short-scale bass

Any Drawbacks?

  • The case is not included

Best Runner Up Short Scale Bass Guitar

Squier by Fender Bronco Bass

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The Squier by Fender is the best budget short scale bass guitar available today. It is great for people who are looking for an entry-level bass. The sound is full as well as rich. Besides, you can tune it easily with fewer pains in the neck while getting the perfect sound.

Here are more details on this budget option.

Body Material and Neck

The Squier is equipped with Agathis tonewood and basswood like softwood from the southern hemisphere. Then, its Agathis body features a glossy polyurethane finish. It gives the guitar an eye-catching look.

The unique, C-shaped maple neck adds to the glossy look of the guitar. Moreover, the Bronco Bass features a 30” scale length – the higher range of short-scale guitars.


The Fender made this bass economy with its 19 medium jumbo frets. Here the body is joined at the 15th fret. Then, its maple fingerboard has a 9.5-inch radius with black dot inlays. A rosewood basswood fretboard covers the maple fingerboard.

What’s more, the Bronco includes a 2-saddle chrome bridge as well as mini-tuners. There is a specially-designed pickup. It is actually like a 6-pole Squier Stratocaster. Thus, the guitar can transduce the sound for a better output.

Lastly, there is one master volume control and a tone control knob. It is an excellent feature for the first-time user who is just discovering the bass.

Sound and Performance

Like other Fender guitars, it also offers a notable sound. Its specially-designed single-coil pickup ensures a full and rich sound. You may also add an amplifier to boost the sound. Besides, the weight of the guitar is excellent for traveling as well as a live performance. 

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Agathis
  • Pickups: Specially-designed single-coil
  • Scale length:
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Bridge: Two saddle chrome bridge
  • Weight: 9lb

Reasons to Pick

  • Sleek and glossy appearance
  • Very cost-effective
  • Offers a great tone
  • Easy to play
  • Lighter compared to other 30” bass

Any Drawbacks?

  • Requires an amplifier for enhanced sound
  • Durability might be an issue

Bonus Suggestions for the Best Short Scale Bass Guitars

Hofner HCT-SHB-BK-O Shorty Electric Bass Guitar

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As the name implies, the Hofner Shorty is the shortest bass you can get with 30” scale length. It is perfect for taking anywhere including an airplane overhead compartment. The scale length is easy to play for guitarists with a shorter reach.

Find out more about the Hofner Shorty bass guitar.

Body Material and Neck

The Hofner HCT Shorty features a solid one-piece basswood body. It offers a vintage look fashioned by the attractive sunburst color scheme. Then, the tonewood design has a spruce top along with a maple back and sides.

The best part is that the bass guitar weighs only 5.5lbs. It is lighter than most of the 30” short-scale counterparts. So, the young long-scale bass guitarists can make a smooth transition with this guitar.

However, there is a short maple neck, and you can easily access the full neck range. Since the body weight is too light, it is subject to neck dive. You need to support the neck; otherwise, it will drop.


There are exceptional 24 frets on the rosewood fretboard. The wide-cutaway body is attached at the 18th fret. Also, it includes a chrome bridge that provides distinct string saddles. The guitar has a nickel-plated tuning machine as well as Pearloid buttons.

Furthermore, the Hofner uses original Hofner high-output humbucker pickup. This pickup makes a great combination of Hofner’s historical construction. There are separate master tone and volume control knobs, which are black chrome.

Sound and Performance

The Hofner Shorty provides a modern deep bass sound. It doesn’t have any feedback issues that are found in cheaply-made bass guitars.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Basswood
  • Pickups: Hofner’s Humbucker
  • Scale length:
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: Chrome bridge
  • Weight:5lb

Reasons to Pick

  • Vintage outlook
  • Too lightweight
  • Unique 24-fret neck into 30” scale
  • Compact body
  • Gigbag is included

Any Drawbacks?

  • Somewhat pricey

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Electric Bass Guitar II – Black

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Gretsch might not be a familiar name for newbie bassists, but it is quite popular in the guitar community. The Gretsch G2220 is a trendy guitar for a good reason. Firstly, its affordable price is the main reason beginner bassists go for it.

Let’s learn more about this best budget short scale bass guitar.

Body Material and Neck

The body of this affordable bass is made of basswood. It has a deep cutaway for access to the highest frets. Also, the body has a glossy black finish and a tonewood. This combination provides a balanced tonal profile.

Then, its maple neck features a glossy urethane finish. The neck is screwed to the guitar body at the 15th fret. The longer neck into its smaller body might create an issue of “neck dive.”


A walnut fretboard emphasizes on warm low-end and bright trebles. It offers an excellent final sound. The fingerboard has a flat 12″ radius with medium jumbo frets and white Pearloid dot inlays.

Then, the bass features a four-saddle adjustable bridge. It includes 0.045-0.105 fat wound strings. You may need to replace for a better tone. Unlike others, there are two mini dual-coil pickups into the electronics.

These pickups combine both traditional humbuckers and single-coils. Besides, there is another plus of having a dual-coil pickup setup. It gives you the flexibility to choose the sound. Lastly, it features die-cast chrome tuners and a synthetic bone nut.

Sound and Performance

The Gretsch G2220 offers a flawless sound with the 3-way selector toggle switch, volume and tone control. As mentioned, the dual-coil setup ensures versatility when it comes to the tone. The tone you get ranges from woody, round tones to bouncy, and bright lead sounds.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Basswood
  • Pickups: Two mini dual-coil pickups
  • Scale length:3.”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: Four-saddle bridge

Reasons to Pick

  • Quite affordable
  • High-output humbucking pickups
  • Offers a range of bottom with bright accents
  • Durable
  • Great and flawless sound

Any Drawbacks?

  • Prone to neck dive
  • The extra-small body might be an issue for taller bassists


Hofner IGNITION SB Electric Violin Bass Guitar

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If you are fond of the 70s Violin Bass models, the Hofner IGNITIONSB might be your option. It will bring you the same iconic feel of playing ancient violins. It was also one of the world’s iconic guitars since Paul McCartney rocked the stage in 1961.

Read on below for more details on this iconic bass guitar.

Body Material and Neck

The Ignition bass features a semi-hollow body along with a 29.9″ scale. Hofner manufactured this guitar inspired by the 1970s violin bass designs. The design is not only for beginner bassists but also for the senior bassists to love playing it.

Moreover, it includes a compact spruce top along with maple back and sides. This combination offers a range of natural acoustic resonance. Besides, this solid maple neck provides excellent playability and sustain. Even with the robust construction, it is absolutely lightweight with only 5lb weight.


Its one-piece maple neck features 22 frets, which are tinny for a bass. It is topped with a rosewood fingerboard and white Pearloid dot inlays. Then, its unique Hofner wooden bridge includes separately-adjustable string saddles.

It contributes to perfect intonation. There are two Hofner Nickel pickups attached with Hofner’s control panel. Also, the control panel includes two volume control knobs for each pickup. There are three slide switches in between.

Sound and Performance

The guitar produces more versatile and hands-on sound. Though it has round-wound strings, you may install the strings flat-wounds. It will help you bring a signature deep and powerful tone. The bass also delivers woody, classic warm, and acoustic-style tone.

Just like the 70s violin design, it can produce the tone of 60s pop music. But, you can get a modern rock band sounds as well. Most bassists use it for heavy dance mix bass lines.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Semi-hollow body
  • Pickups: Hofner’s Staple nickel pickup
  • Scale length:9.”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: Adjustable wooden bridge
  • Weight: 5lb

Reasons to Pick

  • Iconic design
  • Offers excellent sustain
  • Delivers classic warm and deep tone
  • Easy to hold

Any Drawbacks?

  • Control panels can be baffling for beginners

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ MN Black

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Fender Player Mustang Bass is a suitable option for those looking for a high-end bass. Since the beginning, the Fender Mustang Bass has been the most enduring bass. This modern edition of Mustang bass represents the old Mustang but with vintage feel and sound.

The Fender Player Mustang bass packs a lot of features that worth your extra penny. Let’s take a look at these.

Body Material and Neck

The Fender Mustang bass is built to deliver only the best, and this one is no exception. It features an alder body. The exclusive CME black finish, along with Tortoise pickguard, adds to its appearance.

Its CME glossy finish offers other traditional colors, like Capri Orange, Sherwood green, 3-color sunburst, etc. Moreover, the maple C-shaped neck and Peu Ferro fretboard provide a clear articulation. 

The hardwood is somewhat denser than poplar but still being lightweight. It boosts the comfort of playing for guitarists of all styles and sizes.


The main attraction of the bass is its unique PJ pickup configuration. It combines a Jazz bass pickup in the bridge and a Precision bass in the neck. In a single package, you’ll get both classic basses.

There is a three-way toggle pickup switch in the bass for pickup configuration. The guitar has 9.5-inches fretboard pairs with 19-medium jumbo frets. Thus, it creates smooth and precise phrases.

Furthermore, the guitar features a durable, synthetic bone made nut. The hardware of the bass is all chrome-plated. There are more, including 4-saddle Bridge, 4-bolt neck plate, a string tree for the D and G strings.

Sound and Performance

The Fender Mustang Bass gives the aspiring players a lot of space to discover their personal sound choice. It offers a warm and flexible tone. The pickups contribute in a loud and smooth bass tone.

Features at a Glance:

  • Tonewood: Alder
  • Pickups: Vintage-style PJ pickup
  • Scale length: 30.”
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Bridge: 4-saddle standard

Reasons to Pick

  • Stylish Mustang Offset design
  • Varied sound
  • Offers fast and comfortable playing feel
  • Includes lots of control and configurations
  • Tuning stability and accurate intonation
  • Durable

Any Drawbacks?

  • Costly than other models
  • Some models have dead notes or intonation issue

Buying Guide of Short Scale Bass Guitar

Buying Guide

Evidently, a short-scale bass is shorter and cheaper than a regular-sized bass. But, there are also possibilities that you’ve wasted a lot of money purchasing the wrong bass. Some people think the bass made of good material can give the best tone.

Well, only the material cannot decide the value of the guitar. Many things make the bass worth buying. Let’s discuss all the features that you should consider before choosing one. 

The Size and Scale Length Matters!

The size you can reach matters in case of a guitar. And the short-scale bass is not an exception. You have to hold the guitar and feel comfortable playing it. Based on the size of the bass, the scale length is also an important feature to consider.

If the bass is for a child, you should buy one that is a few inches longer. So, they can grow into the guitar. It’s all about personal preference. Some people do like playing bass with a scale length of more than 31”.

Besides, some prefer playing below 30″. The best thing you can do is assessing different scale lengths. Then decide which scale length you find comfortable to play.

Choose the Best Strings

Choosing the right strings is essential, as well as a daunting task. So, how to decide which one is suitable for the bass? Well, you can check the manufacturer website for the recommendation.

If any information is not available online, look at the local music stores. Usually, you should consider the strings of 45-100 gauges. Note that most long-scale bass strings will perform better on short-scale basses.


That being said, the wood of a short-scale bass plays an essential role in sound and sustainability. So the choice of wood is more important than its electronics.

The Alderwood, Mahogany, Ash, Maple, Basswood, and Agathis are commonly used wood in short-scale basses. Below are the properties of these woods;

  • Alderwood: Sound clarity and versatility
  • Mahogany: Less bright and warmer sound, most sustainability
  • Ash: Bright sound
  • Maple: Denser sound and more extended sustainability
  • Basswood and Agathis: Less sound and littler sustainability


Rosewood is mostly used material in the fretboard of a short-scale bass. The softness of the rosewood allows pushing down your fingers on the strings. However, the number of frets varies in different short-scale basses.

It could be anything between 20 and 24 frets. A bass with 24 frets allows the user to access two full octaves. Also, there are some short-scale basses with 36 frets. It’s all about how any frets you would like to have on the bass.


Like the strings, check the website to know which pickup the manufacturer recommends. In short-scale bass, you mostly find single-coil pickup.


Obviously, the weight of the short-scale bass should be less than long-scale basses. It adds not only the comfort but also the easy portability. So make sure the guitar is lighter, especially if you are touring.

Additional Accessories

Mostly short-scale basses come with a range of accessories. It includes a strap, guitar case, and an amplifier. Among all, the amplifier is must-have to play the bass guitar.


Finally, the price does matter for beginners and guitarists who want to make a transition. Short scale basses are available in a range of price tags. Mostly, you’ll find a short-scale bass in between $150 and $1000. The less expensive ones are great for beginners. Similarly, costly options are suitable for experienced players.

Do Short Scale Basses Need Different Strings?

The choice of right strings in a short scale bass is crucial to get a good result. There are limited options available for short-scale bass strings. So, many guitarists think of using long-scale strings on short scale basses.

You can likely use long-scale strings on most short-scale basses. However, the short-scale bass strings are under less tension than long-scale basses. You need to up the extra strings by twisting it around.

If the long-scale bass uses 40-95, you’ll need to boost it to 45-100 to use in short-scale basses. Depending on the scale, some manufacturers use shorter or longer strings. Then, some use a thicker core in the short-scale strings.

Note that there is no difference in the gauge of short-scale and long-scale basses. It’s all about the length of the twisted strings. A quick but important note – If you have a 30.75” scale bass, you need to use medium-scales strings. Elsewise, the string’s wound part will not grasp past the nut.

Is A Short Scale Bass Easier To Play?

A short-scale bass is easier to play with small hands. Especially the newbies and young players prefer playing short scale basses. The short-scale denotes thicker and shorter strings.

The shorter the scale of guitar strings, the lower the tension will be. So, with lower tension, it will tend to feel easier on small fingers. The string doesn’t provide too much resistance to fretting. Thus, players can easily play multiple and fast lines.

Apart from the string feel, the compact frets make it easier to play for guitarists with small fingers. A small number of frets fits into a short-scale guitar neck. Hence, the bassists can navigate the fretboard without stretching their fingers.

Because of all these, some players find it easier to play short scale bass guitars.

Does Fender Make A Short Scale Bass?

Yes, Fender is already manufacturing short-scale basses since 1964. They introduced their first short-scale bass guitar named Mustang Bass. Since then, they continue to make several-quality short-scale bass.

The original version of Mustang bass was appreciated by many bands, including “The Rolling Stones,” “My Chemical Romance,” etc. It is one of the Fender’s most enduring bass used by many bassists over the years.

The modern version of the Fender short-scale basses includes Squier Vintage Modified special SS, Squier Bronco Bass, etc. They all sound different.

Should I Buy A Short Scale Bass?

Absolutely you should. There are many reasons why you should buy a short-scale bass. Firstly, the compact physical size is the main reason to use short-scale basses. Then it has a shorter neck, small body dimension, and less distance between frets.

On top of that, it is comfortable for guitarists with small hands to play bass. If you want to explore the bass, short-scale bass is the right choice. However, short-scale basses are not only chosen for its compact physical size.

Senior and pro guitarists choose short-scale basses for its massive sound with a fat low end. That’s what can outshine at filling in a mix. One more reason to choose a short-scale bass is its unique feel. The strings are under less tension in a short-scale bass.

So, it offers a looser and somewhat floppy feel, which controls the instruments sustain and dynamics. Moreover, short-scale bass allows applying techniques that you can hardly execute with long-scale basses.

Long stretches between notes make the short-scale bass guitar more manageable. Then, the compact fingerboard allows for note-filled and speedy bass lines. All these things ensure a flexible and enjoyable playing experience.

Final Verdict

As we alluded to, the popularity of short-scale models has increased over the past few years. So you have to find the best short scale bass considering your preference. What works for others may not work for you.

Today’s markets are filled with guitars made of poor-quality materials. Those units lead to subpar sound. It is wise to visit your local music stores and try out some short-scale basses.

Finally, choose one that fits your musical style and play like a bass player!