best short scale bass

The bass is a wonderful instrument, not only it is the main character in keeping up the tempo of the song but especially with modern techniques professional bass players can get great sounds from them.

There are so many different techniques and arrangements that can be done with the bass that justifies why so many musicians in the world love this instrument.

You may find something eventually call a short scale bass and wonder what that means. The scale is the length of the neck from edge to edge, meaning the total length of the string.

In general basses like the Fender’s precision bass have a standard scale of 34", however over time, especially in the late sixties and early seventies, some designers started to create a bass with a scale of 31". 

This was majorly driven by some musicians complaining that the regular scale was in the end too hard to play especially for very long periods of times (Like a rock show would be).

The problem was that none of the main companies (Like Fender or Gibson) wanted to change their designs, so this new "short scale basses" were mainly manufactured by companies with lower quality standards than the other ones. Thus they were always considered as plainly bad instruments.

I think that if the big names in the industry would have to pay more attention to short scale basses, nowadays the two scales (34” and 31”) would be able to coexist peacefully with each other.

As this didn’t happen, short scale basses are only though for main teenagers who just need a practice bass to start and that they will eventually change when they get older and bigger.

QUICK RUNDOWN

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Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

4.7 / 5

Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar

Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar

4.6 / 5

EpiphoneEB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

EpiphoneEB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

4.5 / 5

Best Short Scale Bass

You may be able to find some higher quality short scale basses out there, however and feeding the myth that they are only good for first-timers. 

We will review three of the most sold basses in the market that in the end they are made and designed for teenagers who are just starting to play and that will eventually change when they grow up.

Have in mind that the explanations are similar to regular basses, as the only difference is the length of the neck (31” instead of 34”) so in the end, the review will be similar to what we would do with professional basses.

Still, we want you to have as much information as possible when buying your first bass long or short scale.

Lastly, there are no easy pros and cons to putting as they are all very similar and we have made it clear that these basses are not professional ones, so basically the pros and cons are going to be on a relative scale to this three basses more than an absolute scale against all basses in the market.


1. Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

The Squier Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass is a great bass to start. It has a decent quality, and for sure it has great looks.

It comes with one single coil mic on the bridge side plus a split single coil precision bass pickup on the neck position; these mics provide a wide variety of sounds that can be achieved with this lovely bass.

The scale is of course 31" which will feel very comfortable when playing it, plus the agathist body provides great durability for the bass.

The neck has a C shape and 20 frets, so you will still have a lot of different notes on your neck even though it is a smaller version.

Finally, this bass comes with two master volume control knobs, one for each mic and a master tone knob that controls the general tone of the bass.

This also provides a wide variety of sounds, however, have in mind that in general on basses of this quality the difference may be subtler than with a higher quality bass.

You may end up thinking "I am moving the knobs and mic position; however, the sound is the same." 

things we liked

  • Great looks
  • 20 frets and C shape makes playing very light feel

THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Sound quality is bad in this kind of basses

2. Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar

Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar

This Ibanez bass has a classic bass look, and it sounds pretty good for being a short scale bass. The body is made from agathis which makes the feeling of playing very light, great for musicians who like to play very fast and furious riffs all the time.

The frets are a bit smaller than the Squier one as they are what in the music industry call medium frets, so this is without a doubt a bass for a teenage player or somebody with very small hands and arms.

The fingerboard is made from regular rosewood to be complementary to the agathis body.

It comes with two mics, a regular single coil on the bridge pickup and a two-part single coil on the neck side.

Even though it comes with three knobs (One master volume per mic and a master tone that affects both mics at the same time) it comes without any pickup selector switch, this means that unless the volume is completely off, both mics are always working at the same time.

One of the cool features of this short scale bass is that it comes in so many colors that for sure you will find one that you will dig.

Also, on the good side, even though the scale is short (with the classic 31" scale fingerboard), this bass has 22 frets, this is a lot and also allows for great high notes soloing whenever you bass player is feeling very active.

With both Ibanez and Epiphone basses (next one to be reviewed), one of the things to remark is that even though they are second or economy lines, the difference in between them and their big brother (main brand) is not so big, on the other side the difference between a Squier by Fender and a Fender bass is just so big that it may not make so much sense to buy a Squier bass in the end.

things we liked

  • 22 Frets
  • Great for a first bass

THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Again, the general quality of this bass is bad

3. EpiphoneEB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

EpiphoneEB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

The Epiphone EB-0 Electric Bass has a similar shape and color to the famous bass from Gibson, the SG.

The SG was one of the signature lines from Gibson, and it is still played all around the world by the best musicians in the world.

This affordable bass is carved in mahogany with a bolted mahogany neck. To complement this and get a great fast feel when playing the fretboard is made from Rosewood with dotted inlay.

Like I said on the Ibanez bass, the difference in quality between this bass and the mainstream Gibson SG is probably a bit smaller (Still big though) than on the Fender vs. Squier by Fender Bass, so if you are looking for an economical option, this may make more sense than the other one.

The scale of this bass is even smaller than the other two we have reviewed as it comes on a 30.5" scale, this means that the frets go only up to the 20th fret, so if you are the kind of player that likes to get treble sounds out of your bass this may not be your best option.

This bass comes with a single humbucker mic and only two knobs, one for master volume the other for master tone control.

This makes this bass a good idea if you are planning on buying distortion effect or pedalboard as the humbuckers always pick up more signal than the regular single coil.

things we liked

  • In here we do have an actual pro which is the humbucker mic on this bass

THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Since it has no other mic the final sound out of the bass will always be very similar

Short Scale Bass - Buyer's Guide

On this review, we didn’t have so many things to take care of as all basses were pretty much standard.

A short scale neck (Either 30.5" or 31"), mics (Single coil or Humbuckers), and finally the volume and tone control knob.

This means that the buyer’s guide will have much more things in common versus our usual comparison in between for example pedal or stomp boxes.

Question / Bass

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar Starlight

EpiphoneEB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

The biggest advantage

This bass has a lot of different features which will make the learning very wide.


You have two mics plus three knobs, understanding how they work and difference in sound makes the learning experience a wonderful journey

The Ibanez short scale bass has as its biggest advantage the fact that it has 22 frets even though it has a reduced scale.


With the jumbo fret, the player will be able to develop great technique and also to get cool treble sounds while playing solos

The biggest advantage is by far the humbucker mic.


Humbucker’s mics pick up a lot of signals which makes them very good to be combined with some classic bass effects pedals or pedalboards like distortion or delay

Ideal for

All three basses are ideal for teenagers that are just starting to play this wonderful instrument.


And don’t get me wrong, in this case, you are not settling, you are just buying a nice first bass to move towards the professional series eventually

Things to have in mind

To have in mind on these basses is that, on the good side, since they have a shorter scale, the playing will feel looser than when playing a full-scale bass, this is good as usually teenagers do not have enough strength on their fingers to play a full bass for long periods of time

Any cons?

The con is general for all of them, which is that the general quality of these basses is not the best. Not only they are short scale basses, but they are also second brands (not mainstream) of others.


So, you have to understand what you are buying and what you are going to get out of them

When to move on to the next Bass pedal?

Also, a general rule here, try to move on to a professional bass when you got the best out of these basses.


Don’t be like “This bass is bad I need a new one,” try to learn to play it, learn music theory, and when you have some more years on you, you can go ahead and buy a nice professional full-size scale bass to keep on rocking

black white bass stand

Conclusion

Even though it may be impossible to beat the classic Fender's precision bass with its regular scale of 34" there may be some room in the future for the short scale or 31" scale bass's.

The truth is that the world never really gave them a chance as most of the short scale bass's design where thought for teenagers who were just started playing the bass and they were looking for a "training bass."

This means that most of these instruments were also made with bad quality materials, I would say that this is the reason why there are no good short scale basses.

Unfortunately, and continuing the point that I was making, the bass's that we reviewed were also of very bad quality, in the end, we fed the monster some more chunk food.

The bass's we reviewed are great for somebody who is in their teen years and wants to start playing this instrument, however, if you are a grown-up, even with small hands you should either go to a professional size bass or buy a different short scale bass to assure that the sound quality will be awesome.

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