Short-scale basses are an amazingly cool part of the electric bass family tree that is often criminally overlooked. We usually think of basses as large, long instruments, which they are, but a short-scale instrument has its own unique set of charms to offer.
Shorties are great for bass players of smaller size who aren’t physically comfortable on a full-scale instrument. They are much easier to play than something modeled on an old P-Bass with a neck like a felled tree. This also makes them an excellent choice for guitarists who need to play or track bass parts.
While not the best basses for those using drop tunings, there isn’t much a sonic difference compared to a longer bass when tuned to E.
Today, we are going to help you find the best short-scale bass guitar for your needs and applications. Ready? Here we go!
It is tough to go wrong with the Epiphone EB-O Electric Bass. The original Gibson versions from the 1960s were a popular and affordable way to get cool bass tones in a smaller ax in the old days and this Epi version is exactly the same in the present day.
The styling and sound of these are total throwbacks to yesteryear and instantly give off that warm and fuzzy bass sound from your favorite old records.
The EB-O features a carved Mahogany body with a bolt-on Mahogany neck with a Rosewood fingerboard. That wood combination, coupled with the single SideWinder bass humbucker in the neck position, is where all that warmth gets created. Hardware is chrome all the way around and includes a fully-adjustable bridge.
The EB-O is light and easy to play, thanks to its 30.5-inch scale length (which is the distance from the nut to the bridge saddle) and the timeless SG body style makes high fret access a beautiful thing. Guitar players doubling on bass may find one of these to be all they will ever need.
- Super playability!
- Easy on the shoulder and back!
- Classic sound and styling!
- Not much treble to be had.
- May be too simple for ultra-modern players.
Squier by Fender
The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Short-Scale Bass is a great-sounding shorty with an exciting look that harkens back to the surf music era.
It positively oozes that flashy/trashy garage rock coolness that makes pulses pound. Offset body styles like this have been embraced by the alternative and indie rock scenes since the 90s, however, so you won’t look like an oldies player when slinging one of these.
The Jaguar sports a Maple neck with a Laurel fretboard connected to a Basswood body.
Pickups are of the P/J variety and that makes this little beast capable of dialing in any required bass tone this side of modern metal.
Each pickup has its own Volume knob and there is one master Tone control. Nice and simple, as Leo intended. These things are a blast to play, sound great, look cool, and Squier needs to send me one now.
- Rockstar good looks!
- Lots of sounds on tap!
- Lightweight and playable!
- Not great for metal and heavier styles.
- Might be too flashy for some players.
You wanna get small, man? Have I got the bass for you!
The Ibanez GSRM20BS Short-Scale Bass is a total runt with a scale length of only 28.6 inches. That is just a little longer than an average electric guitar and makes this blaster deliver a whole lot of heat in a tiny package.
This is a bass perfectly suited for smaller or younger players, guitarists, those in small studio spaces, or anybody else who wants a featherweight instrument that still packs a punch. It rocks a Poplar body with a normal Maple/Rosewood neck, chrome hardware, and that P/J pickup configuration we all love so much.
This is going to be a dream instrument for a lot of people. It puts outstanding bass sounds in small hands, on bad backs, and in home studios at an unbeatable price. Many short-scale basses are based on vintage designs but this Ibanez is a modern shorty that will appeal to the tiny-but-current crowd. Hot stuff, indeed.
- Super small!
- P/J pickup set!
- Could possibly be TOO small for some people.
Hofner HOF-HI-CB-BK 4-String
Short-scale Hofner basses were made popular and eternal by four long-haired guys from Liverpool in the 1960s and they are still a fine choice for anyone seeking an old-school shorty.
The Hofner HOF-HI-CB-BK Bass Guitar is an instant ticket to the tried-and-true but can also create new sounds in the right hands. It has a hollow Maple body with a Spruce top, a Maple neck with a Rosewood fretboard, and two 70s-style Hofner “staple” pickups. Of course, it also has the legendary Hofner control panel that includes On/Off switches for each pick-up, a Solo/Rhythm switch, and individual Volume controls.
This is a perfect bass for anyone seeking the vintage Hofner sound and charm without looking like Paul McCartney, which matters to some folks. His violin-shaped Hofner is so iconic that it’s hard to play one outside of a Beatle tribute show. This is another instrument with major garage band/indie coolness built in and makes a worthy contender for anyone looking for something a little past average.
- Light and hollow!
- Two pickups!
- Garage band cred for days!
- Looks: love ‘em or leave ‘em!
- Another one not really suited to metal styles.
Dean Evo XM
The Dean Evo XM Short-Scale Bass is one for the rockers. You wanna be a shorty metal bassist? This is your new ride.
The Evo is another Mahogany-bodied bass but with two high-output humbucking pickups that will pump plenty of wattage into your cottage. The 30-inch scale makes it easy to get around on and, once again, makes this a perfect bass for rock guitarists needing to go lower.
The look of the Evo is strictly rock and roll, with a satin finish and black hardware. This is one serious-looking instrument that will boost your stage presence immeasurably. The Dean brand has been associated with rock and roll since the day it was born and the Evo XM certainly carries on that family tradition.
Check one out if you don’t want to look like a surfer.
- A full-on rock machine!
- Very lightweight!
- Two humbuckers!
- All metal, all the time.