It’s All About that Short Scale Bass

| More in Acoustic Guitars, Bass Guitars, Electric Guitars, Ukulele
It’s All About that Short Scale Bass

People come in all shapes and sizes, and so should instrument choices. Whether you’re looking for a bass for a younger learner, an adult with a smaller frame and hands, or you just want a bass that is more comfortable to play - there are many fantastic short scale bass options on the market. Electric, acoustic-electric and novelty short scale basses might be small but they’re jam-packed with musicality!

Short Scale Electric Basses

For players wanting a traditional electric bass shape, look, feel, and sound, Epiphone and Fender have great options available. Both offer a 30” scale.

The Epiphone SG E1 (sku 67323, $419) is a solid instrument and budget friendly choice for any musician. This little bass is a pleasing classic cherry red and looks exactly like the full-scale SG. The scale and shape of the neck is extremely comfortable for smaller hands to play but isn’t so small that bassists who play full-size instruments would be uncomfortable picking it up.

What’s also great is that the cutaway shape of the body allows for easy access to the upper frets, so this bass will allow players to not just play simple bass lines, but also play challenging parts that use the entire fretboard. Also keeping with the specs of the full-scale SG, this bass has a single Sidewinder bass humbucking pickup, providing that recognizable rock sound.

For that true Fender experience, the Fender Player Series Mustang PJ Bass (various colours, $1169.99) is the ultimate in short scale bass options. The Mustang has been a choice of bassists from bands such as The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails and My Chemical Romance.

The scale of the entire bass and the C shape of the neck makes this option easy to play, and comfortable whether you're playing while seated or standing.

And don’t forget about the new, popular, and affordable Squier Bronco Bass (various colours and neck materials, $289.99.)

Short Scale Acoustic-Electric Basses

Sometimes bassists want something slightly different than the standard electric options, and instead are looking for a great acoustic-electric choice. There are a couple of fantastic short scale offerings by both Ibanez and Taylor, that bring the acoustic bass guitar down to a more playable size for all bassists.

The Ibanez Short Scale Acoustic-Electric Bass (715685, $391.99) is a beautifully crafted instrument with the parlour-shaped body made of okoume in an open pore, natural finish. It includes a maple neck, with both the fretboard and bridge made of laurel. The okoume wood body offers players a fast attack and bright tone when playingacoustically. Ibanez installs the D'Addario phosphor bronze coated acoustic bass strings (766699, $41.25/set) on these basses, which also helps with the bright and balanced tone of the instrument. Coming in with a slightly smaller scale than a regular sized acoustic guitar; at 24.75”, this bass is extremely comfortable for players of all shapes and sizes.

The pickup is an Ibanez under saddle, and the preamp is an Ibanez AEQ-2T, including an onboard tuner. With these on-board electronics, players can choose to run it through effects pedals to give it a crunchy rock bass sound, or plug directly into an acoustic amp to have a louder sound while maintaining the bass’ acoustic qualities. The musical possibilities with this bass are endless.

Fans of Taylor GS Mini Guitars should try out their line of mini basses. Using the same level of craftsmanship as all of their acoustic guitars, Taylor has produced a beautiful acoustic-electric bass that is available in maple or koa, depending on the sound you’re looking for.

The maple bass (773158, $1199) has a solid spruce top with maple back and sides, which gives this model a punchy and rich sound, while the koa bass (779106, $1299) has both the solid koa top with layered koa back and sides, providing a stunning wood grain, and a warm tone with sweet overtones that emerge as the instrument ages. 

Both the maple and koa models have ebony fretboards, and Taylor is the leader in preserving and protecting ebony forests, so this resource remains renewable and available for years to come.

The scale length on these basses is slightly smaller than the Ibanez short scale bass at 23.5”, and the strings are the D'Addario phosphor bronze coated acoustic bass strings that were specially formulated by D'Addario and Taylor to work on their GS Mini-e Basses. These strings have a nylon core, but still provide plenty of snap and low-end punch.

Both models of GS Mini-e Bass have the Taylor ES-B pickups, which include a digital tuner, and come with a Taylor GS mini bass bag. The onboard electronics help to amplify the rich acoustic sounds of these basses when running through an amp without effects, or musicians can choose to explore built-in effects on their amps or run the bass through effects pedals.

Novelty Short-Scale Basses

Although the bass options in this category are more novelty in nature due to their size and strings, they are still favourites amongst many bassists for their playability and portability.

As the popularity of the U Bass has increased, there are now several brands that offer these instruments. The common theme among them is a small body, playable neck, onboard electronics, and rubber strings. Some are available as fretted or fretless, and the choice of wood and finish range from acacia wood or mahogany to the striking striped ebony. 

These basses are excellent options for players who may have trouble with steel bass strings and need a gentler string for their fingers. The rubber strings are very flexible and don't cut into the pads of players' fingers. While on the quieter side when played acoustically, U Basses are great as a practice bass, and when amplified, they truly shine.

The Denver Acacia Fretless Bass Ukulele (685396, $329.99) is an affordable option, while a mid-range model is the U-Bass Wanderer Acoustic/Electric Fretted U-Bass (759848, $439.99).The Kala Fretted U-Bass (759505, $769.99) is stunning striped ebony – and all three models come with a gig bag!

Leho's Ukulele Bass (748158, $519.99) has the same body size as a baritone ukulele and serves as a great entry into the world of bass playing for not just children, but for ukulele players and anyone wanting a compact and playable bass.

The sapele wood body offers a solid tone to the low end when played acoustically, and when using the onboard electronics (includes a tuner), this bass can pack a punch with an amplifier and effects pedals. With 16 frets, this model allows for most basslines to be played, and would also be a terrific addition to a ukulele ensemble, or an excellent travel bass for musicians on vacation who still want to practice!

No matter the style or size of short-scale bass, there are options available for every musician regardless of age and ability, and you should visit your local Long & McQuade to try out these fantastic smaller - but still big in sound - options in the world of basses.

Kristy is a multi-instrumentalist with an Advanced Diploma in Applied Music. She has been with Long & McQuade at the Bloor St. location in Toronto since 2017 and is the harp specialist for stores across the country.

Keywords: GuitarBassElectricAcousticUkulelePracticeLearningTaylorFenderEpiphoneIbanezDenverLehoL&MLong & McQuade

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