Four easy-to-play, short scale electric basses

Compact for gigging, comfy for everyday play.

guy playing bass
Ace of bass.Lindsey Bahi via Unsplash

Electric bass is the backbone of modern popular music, and the relative simplicity of the instrument makes it a popular choice for both musical beginners and experienced multi-instrumentalists looking to branch out. The average electric bass measures at about 35 inches from the headstock to the bridge, and its formidable size and weight can prove difficult to maneuver in certain situations, especially for beginners or when traveling. Enter the short scale bass: a stylish and compact alternative to full scale instruments that clocks in about 5 inches shorter and can fit into a regular-sized guitar bag. If you’re gigging, have small hands, or just need to travel light, a short scale bass will give you the same rich and deep tone that has been cherished by countless professionals and popularized on many legendary recordings. Below are a few of our favorite short scale basses currently on the market.

Hofner IGNITIONSB Electric Violin Bass Guitar

Hofner IGNITIONSB Electric Violin Bass Guitar
Legendary head-turning looks and sound.Amazon

This is Hofner’s newest version of an unmistakable bass that’s been etched into popular music history forever, thanks to its prominent use by a certain member of the Fab Four. It’s got a 30-inch neck scale and a semi-hollow “violin” style body that keeps it both compact and lightweight. Topped off with classic 500/1 series volume and tone controls, a beautiful flame maple finish and two Hofner Staple humbuckers, it’s easy to see why this bass was destined to become an icon. Any collection will benefit from adding a violin bass—it simply does something no other instrument can.

Fender Mustang PJ Bass

Fender Mustang PJ Bass
Infinite tone combinations.Amazon

Fender’s Mustang bass is another popular form factor in music history, known for its slick look and for offering a nearly identical tone to the venerable Fender Precision Bass (but in a smaller package). The PJ model is the latest reboot of the Mustang and it’s the first to offer switchable and blendable Precision and Jazz Bass style pickups, allowing players to sculpt and customize unmistakable Fender bass tones. The P pickup provides fat, dynamic lows and the J pickup provides midrange punch—a winning combination in any book. If you’re looking for the bass tone made famous on recordings by the Stones and Talking Heads, this is your bass.

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar
Extra, extra short scale.Amazon

Measuring at 28.6 inches from nut to bridge, the GSM Micro from Ibanez is an ideal pick for younger players or frequent travelers. The tri-wood construction includes a fast-action maple neck, poplar body, and jatoba fretboard, all assembled with the same strict configuration and construction quality of its full-size counterpart. Its smooth and natural matte wood finish also offers an inconspicuous alternative to more common and flashy designs on the market. If you’re already an electric bass owner and you’re looking to leave your main axe at home when you hit the road, consider the Micro at your service.

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Electric Bass Guitar II

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Electric Bass Guitar II
Black walnut fingerboard with 20 jumbo frets.Amazon

Old-school music manufacturer Gretsch has entered the short scale bass market with the Electromatic G2220, a round and minimalist design that has all the stylish trappings and details you'd expect from Gretsch. It’s got two dual-coil humbucking pickups that deliver massive, punchy low end and a selector switch to facilitate a tonal blend that complements any style of music. Die-cast tuners and a synthetic bone nut crown the top of this bass and the classic Gretsch logo is emblazoned on its black pickguard.