Introduction: A Foreword about The Best Short Scale Electric Guitars

To many “serious” players, short-scale guitars have always seemed like a bit of a joke. They were seen as either children’s instruments or toys. The fact is though that if you are a road warrior, hauling around your full size guitar everywhere can be get to be a hassle.

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Guitars are bulky, heavy and easy to break. For this reason, many musicians are turning to small scale guitars.

Whether you are just picking up an axe for the first time or having been playing for decades, these small guitars make traveling so much easier and honestly just a blast to play!

Not only that, there are plenty on the market with great size that can rival any of their full-size brethren.

This guide will give you the tips on how to find the best short scale electric guitar as well as some of our top choices.

Top 5 Short Scale Guitars

We have compiled a list of the best short scale guitars to match all price ranges. We have tested these for build quality, electrical components and most important of all, the feel of the guitar.

All of these are great options and suitable for a range of uses from practicing at home to taking them on the road.

Out of all these great guitars, our top choice the Fender Mustang 90 as best overall for price, quality and functionality. If you are going for budget, then you Squire Mini-Strat which gives you plenty of features, robust built at a fantastic value.

BEST SHORT SCALE ELECTRIC GUITAR

Best Short Scale Electric Guitar Under $550:

At 24 inches, this is a massive drop down from the 27 inch guitar might be used to playing with. This increases the playability without any sacrifice in sound quality.

The smooth fretboard and solid electronics come out of this mid-range Fender. Gigging it is no challenge too with its addedportability and great feel. The Fender Mustang 90 is a choice for best overall short-scale guitar.

Body Shape: Double cutaway
Body type: Solid body
Body material: Solid wood
Top wood: Alder
Body wood: Alder
Body finish: Gloss Polyester
Orientation: Right handed Neck
Neck shape: C modern Neck wood:
Maple Joint: Bolt-on Scale length: 24 in.
Truss rod: Standard
Neck finish: Satin polyurethane Fretboard
Material: Pau Ferro
Radius: 9.5 in.
Fret size: Medium

  • Hardware & Electronics 90%
  • Sound 88%
  • Value for Money 92%
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT7iTP660R8
THINGS WE LIKED
  • The guitar is small and lightweight, so it is great for traveling and young players
  • Through-body bridges helps to increase the sustain offsetting the small size
  • You might need a while to get used to the shorter scale, even if a standard scale feels too large. Thankfully, to help with this the fretboard radius is a fairly standard so there is not too large a learning curve
THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • The MP90 pickups are not that great and only the mid position offers a high quality sound
  • Compared to other guitars on the market, the design of this guitar is not aesthetically pleasing
  • No tremolo bar, but the shorter scale helps to balance this by making bends much easier to execute

Best Short Scale Electric Guitar Under $200:

Stagg is a company that produces entry-level guitars that are often very affordable. Their quality and price range is usually around middle-end Squier guitar level, but they are often overlooked because of the less famous brand name.
Still, Stagg is slowly becoming more of a household name as time goes on because it is a very solid alternative to other entry level guitars.
This is a 3/4 size model and it comes in three different color variations. Our personal favorite is the Natural Semi-Gloss as the finish on the other guitars seems a little cheap, but this is entirely up to you.

The specs of this guitar make it a good bargain for anyone who wants to try out a short scale, be it a beginner or an advanced player. Don’t expect a high-grade studio sound, though, unless you are ready to exchange the pickups.
• The Stagg S300 comes in a Strat shape and pickup setup, but with a thicker neck more akin to Gibson guitars.
• The guitar comes with a standard 3 pickup, 3 knobs and 5-position switch configuration for a huge variety of tones.
• The combination Natural semi-gloss body and a Tortoiseshell pickguard is almost iconic

  • Hardware & Electronics   85%
  • Sound 90%
  • Value for Money 96%
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEAbjMYVM3I
THINGS WE LIKED
  • A solid Stagg guitar for entry guitarists with smaller hands or kids
  • Elegant looks combined with a professional pickup configuration will please even advanced players
  • Comes with a tremolo system despite a low price-point
THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • The pickups are rather basic and should be exchanged for some Made in USA Stratocaster pickups
  • The thicker neck might not appeal to people used to Squier guitars
  • Basic headstock and logo design somewhat diminishes the optical quality of this instrument.

Best Short Scale Electric Guitar Under $150:

This is actually the first small sized guitar offered by Ibanez. Though it may have a small size, but it still packs the sound quality of a full sized Ibanez, especially when you have it hooked up to a decent amplifier.

Unlike other small guitars, the Ibanez Mikro is no toy! Mikro features the same construction, high quality and careful set-up of the Ibanez full size GRX and GRG models.

The first Ibanez compact guitar
22″ scale Maple neck offers low tension and small size
Perfect for beginners
Set-up like the full-size GRG models

  • Hardware & Electronics   89%
  • Sound 92%
  • Value for Money 95%
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZPqOCub9vs
THINGS WE LIKED
  • At a tiny just 22”, the Ibanez is a perfect sized instrument for a young musician or even the travelling rock star with a fleet of guitars
  • Low tension makes it easier for beginners to practice for extended time
  • Unlike other options, available in left and right handed set ups
THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • The radius of the neck is still rather wide at 12”, so while it is easier for fast playing and position changes, it can also be more challenging for players with smaller hands or children to comfortably grasp the instrument
  • Although similar, the neck doesn’t utilize Ibanez’s highly praised “Wizard” design
  • Pickups need to be changed for better quality as they don’t compare to others used by Ibanez, but you can expect this out of a budget model guitar

Peavey doesn’t just produce amazing amplifiers, but insanely good guitars and basses, as well. Their high-end stuff compares to Ibanez guitars in terms of quality and sound. But what about the lower-end models?

They are simply great for their modes price! The Rockmaster series has very unique designs from Marvel comics, Star Wars and The Walking Dead, which you either like or you don’t. Regardless, what you get is a completely unique guitar that stands out from all the other instruments.

Some older, full-scale Rockmaster models were available in more traditional finishes, but the 3/4 Rockmasters only come with some Marvel superhero designs like Iron Man and Captain America, as well as Star Wars edition.

These guitars come with only one humbucker pickup, but they are equipped with a push/pull tone knob which enables single coil operation as well. This makes it very easy to switch between a humbucker and a single coil, but uses less resources, which is just one of the reasons why this guitars sound great, yet are very affordable.

Further advantages include a 21 fret layout, a durable design and binding on the body. All in all, this is a fantastic instrument for players of all ages and levels of skill and the Peavy Rockmaster series is more than capable of standing up to more expensive instruments on the stage.

• Single humbucker pickup with a single-coil mode (using a push/pull switch)
• Very unique Marvel, The Walking Dead and Star Wars design
• String-through-body design for maximum sustain
• A comfortable Scale Length: 22.5″

  • Hardware & Electronics   87%
  • Sound 91%
  • Value for Money 94%
THINGS WE LIKED
  • Comes with a great maple neck and rosewood fretboard for fast rhythm and lead playing,
  • A single humbucker pickup that offers a good hard-rock tone. The pull/push option offers a single-coil pickup configuration.
  • Unique design for such an optimally priced guitar that stands out from others in terms of looks and quality.
THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • No plain, single color design among the 3/4 size
  • The remaining full-scale Rockmaster designs from other franchises could’ve made up for a lack of single color models.
  • No tremolo-system option

This is a great starting place for any musician but particularly for kids. This 3/4 scale bad boy still has rich and strong tone and has pretty good note consistency.

It is basically a small scale Stratocaster and for the price you really can’t complain. It is a great on the road and definitely ready to stand out to some of the abuses travel can bring.

rosewood fretboard
hard-tail bridge
master volume and tone controls
3 single-coil Stratocaster pickups.
The fretboard nurses 20 medium jumbo frets and has a 9.5 radius; it’s all backed up with a comfortable C-curve neck with satin finish.
44.5 x 4 x 14.5 inches
11 pounds

  • Hardware & Electronics   89%
  • Sound   89%
  • Value for Money   92%
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPcRdpyN7rQ
THINGS WE LIKED
  • Overall great starter instrument or one to strum with casually
  • Maximum playability with various string gauges via the adjustable truss rod and the chrome fully adjustable fixed to body ‘hard tail’ bridge
  • No noise from the pickups and very solid construction
THINGS WE DIDN'T LIKE
  • Frets are so tall that they stretch the string so you might want to take to local shop to make adjustments
  • Action can be high particularly for new players
  • Tuners can be tough to adjust especially for younger players

BUYING GUIDE – THINGS TO CONSIDER:

What to Look For

When searching for the best short scale guitar, you will be looking for the same things as you would any of guitar. More than anything it is about quality of construction and components.

Tone Wood– You need to think about the choice of tone woods. Many of the short-scale guitars on the market are cheap junior editions of real guitars. You want to make sure that body is constructed out of the same materials as any quality Stratocaster of Les Paul just on a smaller body.
Reach– many people moved to short scale because they have an issue with reach. Normal frets are too far apart. So want to try out some different models and see what your hands. It is all about a neck width that matches the size of your hands so you don’t damage your technique.
Action-same as any guitar. Lower actions means usually easier to play, but you need something to match your style and preferences.
Body size– There is a great deal of variation of guitar size. Short scales can vary by several inches in their overall size, but typically smaller scales equals smaller body. This translates to a reduced volume and sustain. You can compensate for this, but definitely will need to play around to get your sound the way you want it.
The Usual Features– Like any guitar, you are looking for the right combination of woods, electronics, and The Usual Features craftsmanship. This is what will determine how good the overall sound will be.

Pros and Cons of Short Scale Guitars

At the end of the day, it comes up to what guitar fits you best. Size is just one of many factors that you would have to consider. But it is one of the most important ones. Larger scales give you more room to play with chord voicing.

Smaller scales may be easier for those with small hands to do jazz chords and other moves that require a good deal of finger stretching.

There are guitars of all sizes between large and small scale so play around. For example, a Fender Jaguar is quite a bit smaller than a Strat, but you might not even notice the difference. You don’t want to go too small or your fingers may be cramped.

The biggest question you need to ask yourself is “Does this guitar feel wonderful in my hands?”

CONCLUSION

Regardless of whether you are purchasing your first guitar or adding to your massive collection, a short-scale guitar is a great idea.

They are perfect for new players or for those looking to carry around something a little smaller between band practices. Best of all each of these models is very robust and can produce gig worthy sound.

Also be sure to pair a great amp to go along with your new guitar!

So which of these guitars would you choose?

Let us know, best of luck!