Best short-scale electric guitars of 2023
Where style and playability meet.
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
In the world of electric guitars, the best short-scale electric guitars have carved out a reputation for offering players a leaner, snappier, and overall easier playing experience. While it’s true that the smaller form and shorter neck can make these instruments ideal for taking on the road or for players with smaller hands, their unique benefits don’t end there. Short-scale guitars are in many ways literally easier to play than traditional guitars, thanks largely to their shorter strings, which in turn are held under relatively less tension. The result is a smooth, easy-to-manipulate string held over a more compact neck with less distance to reach between frets. Whether you’re looking for your first instrument or aiming to add to your collection, a short-scale electric guitar should be on your shortlist.
Related: Best guitar tuners
Here are some of the best short-scale electric guitars currently available.
Best overall: Fender Mustang
The Fender Mustang is an iconic short-scale guitar that’s just been reissued in Fender’s new Player series of instruments. It’s a pleasure to play. Cherished and popularized throughout history by many industry players including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, this updated Mustang is a fitting homage to the original at an affordable price point. Its scale length is 24 inches and it’s fitted with a C-shaped maple neck and a 9.5-inch radius fretboard. The body is shaped by hand to the original specifications, and the Player Series pickups offer a subtle, modern twist on the classic Mustang tone.
Best for jazz and blues: Kay Reissue 1957 Barney Kessel 6 String Hollow-Body Electric Guitar
Take one look and it’s easy to see that Kay’s 1957 Barney Kessel reissue is built with style in mind. Ideal for jazz, blues, and rockabilly playing, it’s equipped with two “Kleenex box” single coil pickups and has a 24¾-inch scale rosewood fretboard atop a Canadian maple neck. The arched spruce top hollow body allows for pronounced resonance, and because it has a full-size, traditional jazz body, when combined with the shorter string length it produces a unique, woody jangle that’s hard to replicate. If you want classic 1950s swag in an easy-to-play package, look no further.
Best for a modern tone: Epiphone SG Special Satin E1
Here’s yet another classic and beloved short-scale design based on the legendary Gibson SG. Boasting an easy-to-play 24¾-inch neck scale, this SG Special from Epiphone can deliver timeless and full hard rock tone at an affordable price point. It’s equipped with two open-coil ceramic humbuckers and sports a slim-taper mahogany neck bolted to a solid body made from poplar. The high-output pickups are tuned for a more modern tone while still retaining the classic style and playability of the original, and the headstock is finished with a classic ’60s-era logo on the front.
Most versatile: Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70’s Jaguar Electric Guitar
If versatility is your preference in a short-scale guitar, take the Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar for a spin. Designed specifically to emulate the 1970s-era Jaguar, this reissue has a 24-inch scale length, C-shaped neck, and tall, narrow frets for even easier playing. Multiple pickup selector switches allow players to tailor the guitar’s sound to their tonal preference, and the vintage-style tremolo offers a wide range of string bending and sound-making options. No visual detail has been overlooked, either: this guitar has been honed for an accurate style all the way down to the nickel-plated hardware and the headstock logos.
Related: Best audio interfaces