Let us get this straight. Despite being the coolest member of the electric bass family, short-scale basses are often get disregarded. People usually consider basses that are large and long.
Sooth to say, the short-scale bass guitar has its own distinctive charms to offer, especially the rhythms. The shorter scale makes it easier for you to tune and play. Specifically, for people with shorter hands and younger children, it’s a blessing.
So, are you not comfortable with full-scale instruments and looking to play bass? All right, then investing in the best short scale bass under $500 is a worthy choice. In the era of traditional acoustic, electric, and classical guitars, it seems challenging to find, but not impossible.
No matter what you are fond of playing jazz, blues, rock, etc. we got some inexpensive basses out there. We prepared a list of the best short scale bass guitar under 500 by balancing the price and performance.
Let’s find out what’s in stock…
Hold on! Before moving forward, take a peek at the comparison table on the best short scale bass under 500.
Best Short Scale Bass under 500: Our Top Picks
While looking for the best short scale bass under $500, you may become confused with countless options. That’s why we’ve gathered the best-selling short-scale bass guitars so that you can make the best decision.
What Is Short Scale Bass Guitar?
The bass guitar with the finger-friendly short length of strings between the bridge pickup and the nut. Note that it is not the length of the guitar’s neck. While the average bass guitar has 34″ scale length, the short-scale bass guitar has about 31″ scale length.
Generally, short-scale bass guitars have a relatively shorter neck and smaller distance between frets. The size is also compact than average or long scale bass guitars. Also, short-scale bass has distinct tonal characteristics to produce a unique sound.
While you play a single note, it’ll come with harmonics, which makes each guitar unique. With a short scale, the length of the strings becomes shorter. So, it produces high harmonics with lesser volume.
Short scale bass guitars require short-scale bass strings for producing a dark tone. Due to the size and shape, it is suitable for younger children. But, it’s being said that bass greats like Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Andy Fraser, etc. are also fond of a short-scale bass.
Pros of Short Scale Bass Guitars
- Playing short-scale bass guitar is more comfortable.
- Short scale bass guitars are much easier to learn.
- Due to the small size, it has a low action profile.
- Best for beginners.
- Best for playing specific genres such as blues and soul from the 60s.
- Regardless of its tiny footprint, it produces massive sound with a fat low end.
- Short scale bass guitar provides a distinctive feel.
Cons of Short Scale Bass Guitars
- Due to lower string tension, short-scale bass guitars provide relatively low sound quality.
How to Choose the Short Scale Bass Guitar: Buyers Guide
The attributes may be simple, but it is challenging to find the best short scale bass guitar under 500. Especially when you don’t know what to consider. Sometimes people think, it’s only the material that values the guitar.
You may not understand what fits your physics or style with a glance. But, there is a lot that makes a worth guitar buying. You need to bear in mind the following things while purchasing a bass guitar.
First, Check the Size
When it is about short-scale bass guitar, the size or scale comes first. Possibly, you are not comfortable with 34” long-scale bass and also not with super petite 30” short-scale bass. Hence, the guitar has to be in between, say the standard short-scale size 31”. Better you hold the guitar one hand and check if you feel comfortable or not.
The design matters for short-scale bass guitars as it is related to style and somewhat sound. Usually, bass guitars come in three shapes, like J-bass, P-bass, and modern. Among the three, P-bass is too easy to play but not fit for all styles.
Conversely, the other two types are best for different styles. Each company brings its unique sound and shapes. So, decide what you’ll be playing and choose the body type accordingly.
How Many Strings Are There?
Generally, the bass guitar comes with 4, 5, or 6 strings, where the 4-stringed guitar is famous. Then the added 5 and 6 number string allows adding more range in the bass.
This additional 5th and 6th strings help to play lower and higher-pitched notes. The 6th string is found in high-level bass guitars for experienced players. So, choose what you need.
Check the Pickups
No matter whether short-scale or long-scale, any bass guitar includes active and passive pickups. Bass guitar with passive pickup provides a dynamic sound with a warm, full tone. But, these deliver minimum control over the tone.
Conversely, active pickups deliver percussive, bright, and clear tone than passive pickups. Bass guitars with active pickups got a polarized reaction from the expert guitarist.
Check the Guitar Neck
Guitar necks come to a range of shapes to meet individual needs. Where some people prefer a wider neck, others go for the narrower neck. However, like other guitars, the bass guitar neck is crafted with rosewood, maple, and Ebony.
Each material offers a distinctive feeling. The shape and feel of the neck should be comfortable on the user’s hand. Elsewhere it will cause nothing but muscle fatigue. Take expert help to know whether it is twisted somehow if you are using it for the first time. If so, do the setting before using it.
Pick one that’s Easy to Play
Lastly, you should keep in mind its playability. In some way, neck length and frets affect guitars playability. Though some people like bass guitars with jumbo frets, while others prefer medium ones. In any way, the guitar should be easy to play on.
So, What Is the Best Short Scale Bass Guitar?
After analyzing all, we found Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro short-scale bass guitar as the best. The first reason is that it is one of the best-selling products available in the market.
This 28.6” short-scale features a shorter neck, separate volume control for neck and bridge pickups, and more. It is also best for players with small hands, youngsters, and those who want to play bass. On top of that, it comes under 500, which is why the Ibanez GSRM20 is a winner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What does short-scale bass guitar mean?
As explained above, the bass scale denotes the length of the bass from bridge pickups to the nut. And, also the vibration length of the strings in between. The scale is basically the length of the strings.
2. How long is a short scale bass guitar?
The modern short-scale bass guitar has a standard length of 30” or less.
3. Does short-scale bass guitars sound different than long-scale bass?
Definitely. Short scale bass mostly uses relatively heavier string gauge than long-scale bass. This is what creates a thicker tone.
4. Is it possible to long scale strings on a short scale bass?
Luckily, yes, it is possible to use long-scale bass strings on many short-scale basses. Here you need to change string gauges slightly. Say, if you are using 40-95 on a long-scale, then you need 45-100 on a short scale. This is done only to match the string tension of short-scale bass strings.
5. What bass amp should I buy for short scale bass?
It is meaningless to play a short scale bass without a high-quality amplifier. There are lots of options that exist in the market for bass amps. Among all, we suggest buying Hartke HD25 bass combo. It can enrich the low-end tone and maintain high-quality bass amplification. Also, the amp is suitable for bedroom practice sessions, small venues, etc.
Lastly, we’re wrapping up with few words. Note that we focus a few things while making a list on the best short scale bass under $500. We shed light on the playability, ease of use, and versatility to ensure the user’s comfort.
Fortunately, they all are well built and worth giving a try. Yet, at the end of the day, the decision is yours to buy the compatible short-scale bass guitar.