7 Best Short-Scale Bass Guitars of 2023

Smaller, short-scale basses have been gaining popularity because of their affordability, comfort, and unique sound.

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Short-scale bass guitars have a scale length of less than 32″, while normal bass guitars have a scale length of 34”. The shorter string length creates some interesting changes, like less string tension and an even fuller bass sound than the normal 34” bass guitar.

Our #1 pick is Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ because of its incredible tone and versatility while keeping a reasonable price tag.

Now let’s get into our list of best short-scale bass guitars!

Quick Summary of the Best Short-Scale Bass Guitars

  1. Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ (Overall Best)
  2. Hofner Ignition Violin Bass Guitar (Most Iconic Bass)
  3. Gibson SG Standard Bass (Best Premium Bass)
  4. Ibanez miKro GSRM20 Bass Guitar (Best Budget Bass)
  5. Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II (Best Value Bass)
  6. Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass (Great Budget Bass)
  7. G&L Tribute Fallout Short-Scale Bass Guitar (Best Tribute Model)

Best Short-Scale Bass Guitars

1. Overall Best – Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Alder Body
  • Scale Length: 30″
  • Pickups: Vintage-Style Single Coil

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ is a modern version of one of the world’s finest commercial short-scale bass guitars, and it comes at a decent price. The Mustang Bass has a long history that goes back to 1964, and it’s not just a short-scale version for beginners.

The Fender Mustang Bass has been frequently used by many influential players such as Billy Wyman of The Rolling Stones and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, and this classic bass has been upgraded for the modern bassist.

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ has amazing versatility from a PJ pickup configuration, which features both a split single-coil P neck pickup and a Jazz bass single-coil style bridge pickup. This configuration allows for deep and penetrating tone, midrange punch, and everything in between.

The 30″ scale length also makes this bass a perfect starting instrument for beginners, but it has good enough tone and playability that a professional bassist can take it on their tour.

2. Most Iconic Bass – Hofner Ignition Violin Bass Guitar

Hofner Ignition Violin Bass Guitar


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Maple Body
  • Scale Length: 30″
  • Pickups: Hofner Ignition Staple humbuckers

Perhaps the most iconic short-scale bass guitar ever, the Hofner 500/1 bass, is known as the “Beatle” bass because it was Paul McCartney’s most used bass. This unique violin-style hollow body bass was used for all the iconic Beatles bass lines like “Come Together.”

The original Hofner 500/1 bass is rare and ridiculously expensive, but luckily the company has put out many different affordable versions of the bass.

Hofner Ignition Series Violin Bass is one of the many versions, and Ignition Series Violin Bass has most of the same features as the original, like the famous violin bass designs with hollow bodies.

Hofner Ignition Series Violin Bass has a signature tone that is very warm and woody, and when you play it, you can feel the whole bass ring. It’s almost like a hybrid between a double bass and an electric bass.

If you are a big fan of Paul McCartney or just want that unique Hofner bass sound, Hofner Ignition Violin Bass is a great place to start. The bass comes with its own Hofner Ignition Staple humbuckers and teacup master tone control knobs.

3. Best Premium Bass – Gibson SG Standard Bass

Gibson SG Standard Bass


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Mahogany Body
  • Scale Length: 30″
  • Pickups: SG Bass Humbucker

Gibson SG Standard Bass is another classic short-scale bass, and this classic bass is commonly referred to as the EB-3 bass. EB-3 bass was actually discontinued in 1979, and the SG Standard Bass is the new reincarnation.

With the iconic SG mahogany body, the SG Standard Bass features an amazing set of Gibson SG Rhythm and Lead pickups. The SG Standard Bass is well-known for its deep sound and creamy tone, making it suitable for rock, pop, R&B, and more.

The rest of the guitar’s design is very similar to the famous Gibson SG Standard Electric Guitar, with the classic 3-point adjustable Gibson tailpiece and Grover tuners. In terms of tone knobs, the SG Standard Bass comes with two volume controls as well as one master tone control knob.

SG Standard Bass is built with Gibson quality, and they are easily one of the best short-scale basses you can find anywhere. But this also means that this bass is quite pricey, especially considering it’s a short-scale bass guitar.

Gibson SG Standard Bass is recommended to serious bass players that genuinely love the short-scale bass tone and playability.

4. Best Budget Bass – Ibanez miKro GSRM20 Bass Guitar

Ibanez miKro GSRM20 Bass Guitar


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Poplar Body
  • Scale Length: 28.6”
  • Pickups: Dynamix P&J Pickups

Ibanez miKro GSRM20 is one of the cheapest short-scale bass guitars, and it offers some serious bang for your buck.

At around $200, the miKro GSRM20 looks gorgeous with its curvy and light poplar body and gives you access to both the P-style and the Jazz-style pickup configurations. The Ibanez miKro series was started for young students with smaller hands, but this bass guitar could be used for all age groups.

This bass has the shortest scale length out of all the basses on this list at 28.6”, but has plenty of frets up to 22 frets. Combined with a slim neck profile, the miKro GSRM20 is extremely comfortable to play with, even for a complete beginner,

Ibanez miKro GSRM20 is easily one of the best short-scale bass guitars in the affordable price range, and this is a bass that I would recommend to complete beginners.

5. Best Value Bass – Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Basswood body
  • Scale Length: 30.3″
  • Pickups: Mini Bass Single Coil

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet II Bass is a simple and light electric bass guitar that is worth every bit of its affordable price tag – even professional bassists like Mike Kerr of Royal Blood use this bass on stage.

Junior Jet II has a basswood body and a maple neck with a classic Jet design and a one-of-a-kind 30.3″ scale length. This 30.3″ scale length makes this bass so much more comfortable to play compared to a long scale bass guitar, and even beginner bass players can easily play the Junior Jet II.

The bass comes with two simple single-coil pickups and just one volume and one tone control with a 3-way toggle pickup switch. Even though the bass itself is super light, the tones from this bass are warm and big. The tones from the Junior Jet II are suitable for rock, blues, pop, metal, and R&B.

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet II is certainly one of the best short-scale bass guitars you can get in this price range, and it’s highly recommended as your first bass guitar or for anyone simply looking for their very first short-scale bass guitar.

6. Great Budget Bass – Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass

Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Nato
  • Scale Length: 32″
  • Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico Single Coil

Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass is based on the Fender Jaguar Bass of the 70s, and this is another great short-scale bass guitar that you can purchase at a bargain price.

Squier Jaguar has the famous Fender Jaguar body with minimal features – two single-coil pickups and two simple volume & tone controls. And just like the Fender Mustang PJ bass, this bass also has both the P bass and J Bass tones available.

The Squier Jaguar Bass has a mid-focused tone that is slightly different from the other short-scale bass guitars, but nonetheless, this bass guitar has plenty of versatility when it comes to tone.

The scale length of the Squier Jaguar bass guitar is also the longest on this list, and it’s right in between a regular 34″ bass guitar and a 30″ short-scale bass.

With the classic 70s 3-Color Sunburst finish, the Squier Jaguar bass guitar is the perfect mix between the old and the new, and it’s a great bass for both beginners and experienced bass players.

7. Best Tribute Bass – G&L Tribute Fallout Short-Scale Bass Guitar

G&L Tribute Fallout Short-Scale Bass Guitar


  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Body Material: Poplar
  • Scale Length: 30″
  • Pickups: G&L Magnetic Field Humbucker

G&L electric guitars and basses are lesser known to the public, but they are another legendary company built by Leo Fender of Fender Musical Instruments. G&L also has an affordable short-scale bass available called the G&L Tribute Fallout Short Scale Bass guitar.

G&L Tribute Fallout has a beautiful single-cutaway Poplar body with a rather uncommon pickup and control setup.

The G&L Tribute Fallout is powered by a single Magnetic Field Design humbucker in the middle position of the bass, and it offers much more versatility than expected. Within this one MFD humbucker, you have the option to choose between parallel, split-coil, and series configurations.

G&L Tribute Fallout is also known for its acclaimed Saddle-Lock bridge system, and the bridge system combined with the short-scale design makes for very resonant and punchy bass tones.

Although not as popular as other brands, G&L Tribute Fallout is definitely one of the best short-scale basses in the mid-level price range.

Best Short-Scale Bass Guitar Buyer’s Guide


When compared to a regular bass guitar, short-scale bass guitars are more affordable on average. However, when compared to its close sibling, short-scale guitars, short-scale basses come in a much more variety of price ranges.

Short-scale basses can cost anything from $200 up to $5,000, depending on their craftsmanship and quality. If you’re a beginner looking for your first bass guitar, you should be able to find a well-built short-scale bass guitar for under $300.

If you’re an experienced bass player looking for a short-scale bass because of its unique tone quality, professional-level short-scale bass guitars are available anywhere from $600 to $3,000.

But remember that a more expensive price tag doesn’t always mean better quality, so always make sure to try out the short-scale basses yourself and find the perfect bass that fits your style of playing.

Type of Bass

Just like regular, long-scale bass guitars, short-scale basses come in various styles – some come with Precision Bass pickups or Jazz Bass pickups, or some even come in a violin-style body like the Hofner bass guitar.

Violin-Style Bass

Violin-style basses are some of the most iconic short-scale basses you’ll find, and they are essentially a mix between an acoustic bass and an electric bass guitar. Although they were first introduced in 1955, they were popularized in the 60s when Paul McCartney of The Beatles frequently used this bass guitar.

Violin-style basses have a very unique tone that is warm and boomy, and because it is semi-acoustic, they are not as versatile as a solid-body bass guitar. But for getting that classic Beatles bass tone or for that warm and round bass tone, Violin-style bass guitars have some of the best sound quality for that style.

Fender & Squier Short-Scale Bass

Fender has a long history of producing short-scale basses just like Hofner, and Fender’s short-scale models, like Mustang and Jaguar basses, are extremely popular. Fender basses are widely regarded as having the most “classic” and most versatile tones around, and their short-scale basses are no exception.

If you want the best all-around sound that can work across multiple styles of genres, affordable Fender-style bass is the way to go.

Gibson & Epiphone Short-Scale Bass

Gibson and its sibling company Epiphone are also equally popular brands in the bass guitar market as Fender. In fact, Gibson’s EB-1 model predates Hofner’s short-scale bass and is one of the first commercially-sold short-scale bass guitars.

Now Gibson does not officially produces the legendary EB series, but there are similar basses available, like the Gibson SG Standard Bass and the Epiphone EB-0 or the Epiphone EB-3.

These basses are iconic staples in the history of rock, and for rock fans, Gibson or Epiphone short-scale basses are great choices.

Scale Length

Even within the short-scale basses, a wide range of scale lengths is available. Some basses, like the Airline Pocket Bass, have a scale length of 26.5″, and there are slightly longer ones, like the Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass, with a scale length of 32″.

Although the standard length is 30″, these different variations result in quite interesting bass tones and playability.

Obviously, shorter basses will have much less tension in the strings and will be much more comfortable to play on. But the downside is that number of frets will be quite limited, and it will be awkward to transition to a full-scale bass, which normally has a scale length of 34″.


Strings are often overlooked, but the type of string you use has a massive impact on the overall bass tone and playability. The two main types of strings are round-wound strings and flat-wound strings.

Violin-style basses usually have flat-wound strings, which creates a much more muffled and round tone. Flat-wound strings are harder to play on, and bends are difficult with flat-wound strings.

On the other hand, round-wound strings are more common types of strings, and they are much more comfortable to play on. Round-wound strings have more treble-y quality to them and are a much more versatile type of bass strings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of playing a short-scale bass guitar?

Short-scale bass guitars are often recommended to younger players with smaller hands. Because regular bass guitars require a fair amount of hand strength to press on, players with small hands will find short-scale bass guitars much more comfortable to play on.

Another main benefit is its unique tonal quality – short-scale basses usually have a relatively deep and warm tonal quality to them. Many professional bass players prefer short-scale basses in some styles of music because of their unique bass tones.

Can I use standard bass strings on a short-scale bass guitar?

Although using standard bass strings on a short-scale bass guitar is possible, it is generally recommended to use strings that are specifically designed for short-scale basses.

There are plenty of great options for a set of short-scale bass guitar strings, from Ernie Ball Strings, D’Addario Strings, Elixir Strings, Jim Dunlop Strings, and more.

Who are some famous short-scale bass players?

The most famous short-scale bass player is certainly Paul McCartney, and he popularized the use of violin-style short-scale bass guitars in the mainstream media.

Other than Paul, there are other notable players such as Bill Wyman of Rolling Stones, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, Jack Bruce of Cream, and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue.


In this article, we had a thorough look at the best options for short-scale bass guitars from brands like Fender, Hofner, Gibson, Epiphone, Squier, Gretsch, Ibanez, and G&L.

Our overall best pick was the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ, which is a versatile and great-sounding short-scale bass that can work for almost any genre.

If you’re looking for the most affordable bass – Ibanez miKro GSRM20, Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet II, or Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar Bass are all amazing options with different characteristics.

Finally, if you’re looking for the best without any limitations on your budget – Gibson SG Standard Bass or the Hofner Ignition Series Violin Bass are both fabulous options.

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