Best Short Scale Bass


Have you ever wondered why some bass players prefer a more compact and comfortable instrument over the full-sized variants? Enter the world of short scale bass guitars, revered for their playability and warm tone. If you’re contemplating diving into this unique instrument category, there’s plenty to be excited about.

Our Top Picks

Are you ready to discover the crème de la crème of short scale basses? Let’s delve into the top models that are making waves in the market.

Our #1 Top Pick: Fender Mustang Bass PJ

The Fender Mustang Bass PJ effortlessly bridges vintage aesthetic with modern functionality. Sporting a 30″ scale length, it’s not only accessible for players with smaller hands but also provides a punchy tone that can adapt to various music genres. The P Bass split-coil middle pickup combined with a J Bass bridge pickup offers a plethora of sound customization, allowing both precision and growl. Its “C”-shaped maple neck and 9.5″-radius Pau Ferro fingerboard enhance comfort during play. The Mustang Bass PJ is versatile and ideal for anyone looking for a top-tier short scale bass.

Pick #2: Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II

A bass that exudes a rock-n-roll vibe while providing a meaty, robust bottom end—the Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II captures this essence. This 30.3″ scale bass boasts a basswood body and a bolt-on maple neck with a black walnut fingerboard. The two Gretsch mini dual-coil bass pickups pack a surprising amount of clarity and punch, with enough versatility to suit rock, blues, jazz, and even twangy country lines. Enhanced by its classic styling and affordable price point, the Junior Jet Bass II makes for an exceptional short scale instrument.

Pick #3: Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. StingRay Short Scale

The Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. StingRay Short Scale bass delivers big on the renowned StingRay sound within a compact package. This 30″ beauty features a hard maple neck, laurel fingerboard, and an easy-playing 12″ neck radius. With its booming humbucker and active preamp system, it is capable of producing the iconic StingRay punch but in a scaled-down version. For players who crave the Music Man vibe but with the comfort of a shorter scale, the S.U.B. StingRay is an exquisite choice.

Pick #4: Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro

For the budget-conscious beginner or the seasoned pro looking for a travel-friendly option, the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro steps up as an excellent pick. This 28.6″ scale instrument doesn’t shy away from quality, with a poplar body, maple neck, and treated New Zealand Pine/Treated Pine fingerboard. The Dynamix P and J pickups provide a broad range of tones, suitable for your rumbling lows and articulate highs. Exceptional playability and affordability make the Mikro a favorite among the short scale community.

Pick #5: Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special SS

The Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special SS is an ode to the classic Fender designs with a modern twist. Sporting a slim “C”-shaped neck and a 30″ scale length, the bass is perfect for those seeking comfortable playability without the cost of high-end price tags. A single-coil Jazz Bass bridge pickup and a split single-coil Precision Bass neck pickup provide a wide range of tones. The Agathis body and maple neck, along with the Indian laurel fingerboard, make it a durable and aesthetically pleasing instrument. For vintage charm with a modern approach, the Jaguar Special SS answers the call.

What to Know Before You Buy

Before you invest in a short scale bass, here’s what you need to know:

– Short scale basses typically have a length range from 28″ to 32″, making them more compact than standard bass guitars.
– They are preferred by players with smaller hands or those seeking less tension on the strings, but they’re not exclusively for smaller individuals or beginners.
– The tone of a short scale bass is often described as ‘thumpy’ or ‘warm,’ and they excel in genres like classic rock, indie, or pop.
– Due to their reduced size, they can be more prone to creating “dead spots” on the neck, where notes don’t resonate as well. This varies by individual instrument and build quality.
– Most short scale basses have a lighter weight compared to their full-sized counterparts, adding to their overall comfort.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

When choosing a short scale bass, mull over the following factors:

– **Playability**: Make sure the neck feels comfortable in your hands and that you can access all frets easily.
– **Sound**: Test out the bass to see if it provides the tonal character you need for your music. Pay attention to the pickups and electronics.
– **Build Quality**: Look for solid construction, quality tuners, and a sturdy bridge. A well-built bass can withstand the test of time.
– **Aesthetics**: While not as crucial as sound and playability, the appearance of a bass can be an important factor to many. Pick one that you find visually inspiring.
– **Brand and Price**: Established brands usually have a higher standard for quality control, but don’t dismiss lesser-known brands that offer excellent value for money.
– **Accessories and Features**: Consider if you need additional features, such as an active EQ or specific types of pickups, and what comes with the bass (case, cable, etc.).

Why Trust ChooseRight?

At ChooseRight, we’re not just about listing products—we’re about delivering honest and helpful insights to ensure you make the best purchase. Here’s why you can trust us:

– We meticulously review each product, analyzing both its on-paper specs and real-world performance.
– Valuable input is collected through reading thousands of user reviews, ensuring we understand the experiences of those who’ve actually purchased and used the basses.
– Our team gathers feedback from industry professionals and everyday players alike to bring balanced and diverse perspectives.
– Every suggestion is made keeping in mind different levels of expertise, preferences, and budget constraints, ensuring recommendations that resonate with a wide range of readers.

Finishing Thoughts

Choosing the best short scale bass comes down to personal preference, playability, and sound. Whether you’re after a versatile workhorse like the Fender Mustang Bass PJ, the classic cool of the Gretsch Junior Jet Bass II, or the affordability and practicality of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro, there’s a short scale bass to suit your needs. Remember to prioritize what matters to you most. With the right bass in hand, the possibilities are endless, and your music journey is sure to be a rewarding one. Happy thumping!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a short scale bass?

A short scale bass is a type of electric bass guitar that features a shorter neck and scale length typically around 30 inches, compared to the standard scale length of 34 inches on most bass guitars. This makes them more manageable for players with smaller hands or those who prefer a more compact instrument.

What are the benefits of playing a short scale bass?

Short scale basses are easier to play due to their smaller size and reduced string tension, making them ideal for beginners or players with smaller hands. They are also known for their warm, punchy tone, which can be desirable in many styles of music.

Can short scale basses be used in all music genres?

Yes, short scale basses are versatile and can be used across a variety of music genres. They are particularly popular in rock, indie, and vintage-inspired music due to their distinct tone.

Are short scale basses only for beginners?

Not at all. While they are often recommended for beginners because they are easier to play, many professional and experienced bass players choose short scale basses for their unique sound and comfortable playability.

Do short scale basses sound different from long scale basses?

Yes, the shorter scale length of these basses produces less tension on the strings, resulting in a warmer and sometimes more pronounced midrange. The overall tone can be perceived as “thumpier” or less bright compared to long scale basses.

What strings should I use for a short scale bass?

You should use strings specifically made for short scale basses to ensure the correct tension and length. Most major string manufacturers offer short scale versions of their strings.

Can I achieve the same tuning on a short scale bass as on a long scale bass?

Yes, short scale basses can be tuned to the standard bass tuning (E-A-D-G) or any other tuning you would use on a long scale bass. Keep in mind that the lower string tension on a short scale may affect the playing feel and the tone.

Is it hard to switch from a long scale bass to a short scale bass?

Switching between the two can take some adjustment due to the difference in scale length, fret spacing, and tension. However, many players can adapt to a short scale bass with some practice.

Are there famous bass players known for using short scale basses?

Yes, several well-known bass players have used short scale basses, including Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, and Bill Wyman. They have appreciated short scale basses for their ease of playability and distinctive sound.

Where can I buy a short scale bass?

Short scale basses are available at most music stores that carry guitars and basses. They are also widely available online through musical instrument retailers.

Are short scale basses more affordable than long scale basses?

The price of a bass guitar is not solely determined by its scale length. Short scale basses can range from budget-friendly to high-end prices, similar to long scale basses. It depends on the brand, materials, and construction quality.

What are some reputable brands that make short scale basses?

Several reputable brands make short scale basses, including Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Ibanez, and Squire. Each brand offers models with varying features and price points.

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