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Top 10 Best Short Scale Electric Guitars: Ultimate Review

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What Are Short Scale Electric Guitars?

Short scale electric guitars are instruments with a scale length shorter than the standard 25.5 inches. Typically, these guitars have a scale length of 22 to 24.75 inches.

This shorter distance between the nut and the bridge leads to less tension in the strings, making them easier to play, especially for beginners and players with smaller hands.

The reduced scale length also influences the guitar’s tone, often producing a warmer, thicker sound.

Quick Summary of Top Picks

For those in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of our top picks for the best short scale electric guitars:

  1. Best Overall – Fender Player Duo Sonic
  2. Best for Kids – Squier Mini Strat
  3. Best Value – Fender Player Mustang 90
  4. Best for Versatility – Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar
  5. Best for Heavy Metal – Jackson JS Series RR Minion JS1X
  6. Best for Beginners – Sterling by Music Man Cutlass
  7. Best Budget Short Scale Guitar – Ibanez miKro GRGM21
  8. Best for Classic Rock – Epiphone SG Special Satin E1
  9. Best for Vintage Style – Gretsch G2210 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
  10. Best for Unique Tone – Danelectro ’56 Single Cutaway

Detailed Reviews of the Best Short Scale Electric Guitars

1. Fender Player Duo Sonic – Best Overall

best short scale electric guitars fender sonic

The Fender Player Duo Sonic is hands down my favorite among the best short scale electric guitars. Its 24-inch scale length provides excellent playability and a comfortable feel.

When I first picked up the Duo Sonic, I was impressed by its lightweight and compact body. The C-shaped maple neck felt smooth and easy to navigate, whether I was playing chords or intricate solos.

The two single-coil pickups deliver bright, clear tones that are perfect for various genres, from rock to blues. The tone is crisp and articulate, which is great for cutting through a mix.

However, the Duo Sonic does have some limitations. The single-coil pickups can be a bit noisy, especially with high gain settings. Additionally, while the guitar’s vintage-inspired design is charming, it might not appeal to those looking for a more modern aesthetic.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact body
  • Smooth, easy-to-navigate neck
  • Bright, clear tones from single-coil pickups
  • Versatile for various genres

Cons:

  • Single-coil pickups can be noisy
  • Vintage-inspired design may not suit everyone

2. Squier Mini Strat – Best for Kids

The Squier Mini Strat is an excellent choice for young aspiring guitarists. With its 22.75-inch scale length and lightweight body, it’s perfect for kids. Fender have recently announced that they will be making a Mini Telecaster to give people more choice in shapes.

When I handed this guitar to my niece, she found it easy to hold and play. Despite its smaller size, the Mini Strat doesn’t compromise on quality.

The three single-coil pickups and five-way pickup selector offer a surprising range of tones. It can handle everything from clean, bright tones to more overdriven sounds. One downside is that the tuning stability isn’t the best; the guitar tends to go out of tune more quickly than full-sized models. Also, the frets can feel a bit rough on the edges, which might be uncomfortable for beginners.

Another great reason to look at the Mini Strat is the fact that Fender sell bundles that includes everything you need to play your guitar. A great practice amp, a stand, a strap and loads of accessories. This makes the Mini strat great value for money.

Pros:

  • Perfect size and weight for kids
  • Good range of tones from three single-coil pickups
  • Easy to play for small hands

Cons:

  • Tuning stability issues
  • Rough fret edges

3. Fender Player Mustang 90 – Best Value

The Fender Player Mustang 90 offers outstanding value for money and stands out among the best short scale electric guitars. With its 24-inch scale length and P90 pickups, this guitar delivers a rich, full sound that suits a variety of musical styles.

I found the Mustang 90’s offset body design to be not only visually striking but also incredibly comfortable to play.

The P90 pickups provide a nice balance between the clarity of single coils and the warmth of humbuckers. This makes the Mustang 90 incredibly versatile.

However, the guitar’s finish is prone to scratches, and the stock strings were not the best quality. I had to replace them soon after purchase for better performance.

Pros:

  • Versatile P90 pickups
  • Comfortable, visually striking design
  • Rich, full sound

Cons:

  • Finish prone to scratches
  • Stock strings are of lower quality

4. Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar – Best for Versatility

Before I start the review I just want to say… what a cool looking guitar! The Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar is known for its versatility, and it quickly became one of my go-to guitars. This guitar features a 24-inch scale length and a distinctive offset body shape.

The two single-coil pickups and unique switching system allow for a wide range of tonal options. I loved experimenting with the different pickup configurations to find the perfect sound for various genres.

The Jaguar’s vintage-style tremolo and floating bridge add to its expressive capabilities. However, the bridge setup can be tricky and might require frequent adjustments to stay in tune.

Additionally, the single-coil pickups can be a bit noisy, especially in environments with a lot of electrical interference.

Pros:

  • Wide range of tonal options
  • Distinctive, comfortable body shape
  • Vintage-style tremolo for expressive playing

Cons:

  • Bridge setup can be tricky
  • Single-coil pickups can be noisy

5. Jackson JS Series RR Minion JS1X – Best for Heavy Metal

If you’re into heavy metal, the Jackson JS Series RR Minion JS1X is the guitar for you. This 22.5-inch scale length guitar is designed for speed and power.

When I first played the JS1X, I was blown away by its high-output humbucking pickups. They deliver aggressive, cutting tones that are perfect for metal and hard rock.

The sharp body shape and fast-playing neck make it ideal for shredding solos and heavy riffing. Despite its small size, this guitar packs a punch.

However, the extreme body shape might not be comfortable for everyone, and the build quality of the hardware could be better. The tuning machines, in particular, felt a bit flimsy and may need upgrading.

Pros:

  • High-output humbucking pickups for aggressive tones
  • Fast-playing neck
  • Ideal for metal and hard rock

Cons:

  • Extreme body shape may not be comfortable for all
  • Hardware build quality could be improved

6. Sterling by Music Man Cutlass – Best for Beginners

The Sterling by Music Man Cutlass is a fantastic choice for beginners. Its 24-inch scale length and lightweight design make it easy to handle.

When I tested the Cutlass, I appreciated the smooth neck and comfortable body shape. The guitar feels well-balanced and is easy to play for extended periods.

The versatile pickups provide a range of tones from bright and clean to warm and overdriven. However, the guitar’s finish is prone to wear and tear, and the stock pickups, while versatile, lack the character and depth found in higher-end models.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the Cutlass’s high build quality ensures it will last as players progress.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Smooth, comfortable neck
  • Versatile range of tones

Cons:

  • Finish prone to wear and tear
  • Stock pickups lack depth

7. Ibanez miKro GRGM21 – Best Budget Short Scale Guitar

For those on a budget, the Ibanez miKro GRGM21 is an excellent value. With its 22.2-inch scale length and compact body, this guitar is perfect for younger players and those with smaller hands.

I found the miKro to be incredibly easy to play, thanks to its fast neck and lightweight design.
The two humbucking pickups deliver a powerful sound, making it suitable for rock and metal.

However, the guitar’s tone can be somewhat one-dimensional, lacking the versatility of more expensive models. Additionally, the build quality is good but not great; the hardware and finish might not withstand heavy use over time.

Pros:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Easy to play with a fast neck
  • Powerful sound from humbucking pickups

Cons:

  • One-dimensional tone
  • Build quality might not withstand heavy use

8. Epiphone SG Special Satin E1 – Best for Classic Rock

The Epiphone SG Special Satin E1 is a great choice for classic rock enthusiasts. Its 24.75-inch scale length and iconic SG body shape provide a comfortable playing experience.

When I picked up the SG Special, I was impressed by the guitar’s lightweight feel and slim taper neck, which made it easy to play fast solos and complex chords. You get that amazing Gibson look and feel but in a mini, cost effective package!

The pair of humbucking pickups produce rich, full tones that are perfect for rock and blues. However, the guitar’s finish can wear off quickly, and the pickups, while good, are not as refined as those found in higher-end models.

Overall, the SG Special offers excellent value and classic rock tones in an affordable package. Read our indepth review on the SG Epiphone.

Pros:

  • Comfortable, iconic body shape
  • Lightweight and easy to play
  • Rich, full tones from humbucking pickups

Cons:

  • Finish wears off quickly
  • Pickups not as refined as higher-end models

9. Gretsch G2210 Streamliner Junior Jet Club – Best for Vintage Style

The Gretsch G2210 Streamliner Junior Jet Club is a fantastic choice for those seeking a vintage vibe among the best short scale electric guitars.

With its 24.6-inch scale length, this guitar offers great playability. When I first picked up the G2210, I was struck by its retro aesthetics and solid build quality.

The Broad’Tron pickups provide a warm, punchy sound that’s perfect for rock and roll and blues. The guitar’s lightweight body and comfortable neck make it a joy to play.

However, the controls can be a bit confusing at first, and the tone might not be as versatile as some modern players might prefer.

Pros:

  • Retro aesthetics and solid build
  • Warm, punchy sound from Broad’Tron pickups
  • Lightweight and comfortable to play

Cons:

  • Controls can be confusing
  • Tone might lack versatility for some genres

10. Danelectro ’56 Single Cutaway – Best for Unique Tone

The Danelectro ’56 Single Cutaway offers a unique tone that stands out among the best short scale electric guitars. With its 24.75-inch scale length, this guitar is both comfortable and easy to play. When I first played the ’56, I was impressed by its distinctive look and lightweight design.

The Lipstick pickups produce a bright, jangly tone that’s perfect for surf rock, indie, and alternative genres. The guitar’s semi-hollow body adds a bit of acoustic resonance, enhancing its unique sound.

However, the vintage-style bridge can be tricky to intonate, and the body might feel too light for players used to heavier guitars.

Pros:

  • Unique, bright tone from Lipstick pickups
  • Distinctive look and lightweight design
  • Semi-hollow body adds acoustic resonance

Cons:

  • Vintage-style bridge can be tricky to intonate
  • Body might feel too light for some players

Understanding Short Scale Electric Guitars

What is Scale Length?

Scale length is the distance from the nut to the bridge of the guitar. It determines the distance between frets and influences the tension of the strings. Standard electric guitars typically have a scale length of 25.5 inches, while short scale guitars range from 22 to 24.75 inches.

This shorter distance reduces string tension, making it easier to press down on the strings and bend notes.

How to Measure Guitar Scale Length?

Measuring the scale length of a guitar is straightforward. First, measure the distance from the nut (the edge of the fretboard nearest the headstock) to the 12th fret. Then, double this measurement to get the total scale length. This method ensures you account for the exact distance the strings travel over the fretboard.

Ever wondered what goes into making an electric guitar? Check out our step-by-step guitar-building post.

Benefits of Short Scale Electric Guitars

Advantages of Short Scale Guitars

Short scale electric guitars offer several advantages. Firstly, the reduced string tension makes them easier to play, especially for beginners and players with smaller hands.

This can help prevent hand fatigue and make learning more enjoyable. Secondly, the shorter scale length often results in a warmer, fuller tone, which some players prefer for certain styles of music.

Additionally, short scale guitars are usually more compact and lighter, making them easier to transport and play for extended periods.

Are Short Scale Guitars Easier to Play?

Yes, short scale guitars are generally easier to play. The lower string tension means that less force is required to press down on the strings, making it easier to form chords and play complex fingerings.

This is particularly beneficial for beginners who are still developing finger strength and dexterity. The closer fret spacing can also make it easier to play scales and solos.

Do Short Scale Guitars Sound Different?

Short scale guitars do sound different from their standard scale counterparts. The shorter scale length often produces a warmer, thicker tone with more pronounced midrange frequencies.

This makes them well-suited for styles like blues, jazz, and classic rock. However, they can still deliver plenty of clarity and brightness, especially with the right pickups and amp settings.

Choosing the Right Short Scale Electric Guitar

Key Considerations When Buying a Short Scale Guitar

When choosing a short scale electric guitar, several factors should be considered:

  • Body Style: The body style affects the guitar’s comfort and playability. Offset bodies like the Mustang or Jaguar are popular for their ergonomic design.
  • Pickups and Controls: Different pickups produce different tones. Single-coil pickups offer bright, clear sounds, while humbuckers provide a warmer, fuller tone.
  • Budget: Determine your budget and look for guitars that offer the best value within your price range.
  • Build Quality: Ensure the guitar is well-constructed with quality materials to provide durability and good sound.

Wood Types and Their Impact on Sound

The type of wood used in a guitar’s construction significantly affects its sound. Common woods used for short scale electric guitars include:

  • Alder: Known for its balanced tone with clear highs and strong lows.
  • Maple: Provides a bright, sharp sound with excellent sustain.
  • Mahogany: Offers a warm, rich tone with good midrange response.
  • Basswood: Produces a soft, balanced tone with a smooth midrange.

Neck Shape and Playability

The neck shape is crucial for comfort and playability. Common neck shapes include:

  • C-Shape: A rounded, comfortable shape suitable for most players.
  • U-Shape: Thicker and more substantial, ideal for players with larger hands.
  • V-Shape: Offers a unique feel that some players find more comfortable for thumb-over playing.

Expert Tips and Recommendations

Tips for Beginners Choosing Their First Short Scale Guitar

  • Try Before You Buy: Whenever possible, try out different guitars to see which one feels the most comfortable.
  • Consider the Weight: Lighter guitars are easier to handle, especially for younger players.
  • Check the Action: Ensure the guitar has a comfortable action (the height of the strings above the fretboard) to make playing easier.
  • Look for Versatility: Choose a guitar with versatile pickups and controls to explore different sounds and styles.

Maintenance Tips for Short Scale Electric Guitars

  1. Regular Cleaning: Wipe down the strings and body after each use to prevent grime buildup.
  2. String Replacement: Change strings regularly to maintain tone and playability.
  3. Proper Storage: Store the guitar in a case or on a stand to avoid damage.
  4. Setup Adjustments: Periodically check the guitar’s setup, including the neck relief, action, and intonation, to ensure optimal playability.

By following these tips and choosing one of the best short scale electric guitars, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a rewarding musical journey.

Conclusion: Finding The Best Short Scale Electric Guitar

Choosing the best short scale electric guitars involves considering factors like playability, tone, and comfort. Whether you’re a beginner, a seasoned player with smaller hands, or someone looking for a unique sound, short scale electric guitars offer numerous benefits.

From the versatile Fender Player Duo Sonic to the budget-friendly Ibanez miKro GRGM21, there’s a short scale guitar to suit every style and need.
Short scale guitars are easier to play, making them ideal for those just starting their musical journey.

They also produce a distinct, warm tone that appeals to many musicians across various genres. Remember to consider the body style, pickups, and your budget when selecting your guitar.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and proper storage, will ensure your guitar stays in top condition, providing you with years of enjoyable playing. By following this guide and understanding the key features and benefits of short scale electric guitars, you can confidently make an informed decision.

Explore the world of short scale guitars and find the perfect one to match your musical style and preferences. With the right instrument, you’ll be ready to create amazing music and enjoy the journey of playing one of the best short scale electric guitars available today.