The 5 Best Short Scale Electric Guitars Reviews

Playing around with a full sized guitar isn’t easy especially if you are just new to it or have small hands. In these cases you’ll probably benefit by reading the best short scale electric guitars and getting yourself one.

Short scale guitars were originally seen as nothing more than a novelty or a toy. But over time it became clear how useful and practical these instruments can be.

Today you’ll find a lot of serious musicians and artists playing with short scale electric guitars and if you’re new to guitars this is where you can start. If you don’t have time to read the reviews, you can use this table instead.

Top 5 Short Scale Electric Guitars: Comparison Chart

 Product
Pickup
Fingerboard
Body
View On Amazon
Infinity R (Humbucker)
Rosewood
Poplar
MUSTANG MP-90
Rosewood
Alder
Humbucker
Rosewood
Solid mahogany
Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO 4-wire
Rosewood
Basswood
Humbucking
Rosewood
Mahogany

 

Best Picks of Short Scale Electric Guitars

#1: Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 Size Mikro Electric Guitar – Black Night Finish

Ibanez is known for their full length guitars, but now the company has come out with its first 24 inch scale electric guitar and it looks and sounds good.

Sold in a wide range of colors and styles, the Ibanez GRGM21BKN packs a mean punch sound wise especially when connected to a good amp. This guitar doesn’t look like a plaything because it isn’t, and sound quality is excellent.

Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 Size Mikro Electric Guitar - Black Night Finish
  • 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
  • Left-handed model available model (GRGM21BKNL)

Last update on 2020-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The GRGM21BKN is constructed the same way as a full Ibanez so no wonder the sound quality is the same. Set up and tuning is as straightforward and all the strings are top notch.

Like any guitar the GRGM21BKN goes out of tune on occasion, but tuning is simple.   The guitar body is well made and durable so you can play this for hours on end.

This guitar has smooth fret and it’s got a nice feel to it. The mahogany body matches the rosewood fingerboard and the maple neck, giving you a rich, sharp sound.

Its neck is slim but easy to play, and the dual humbucker makes this guitar the perfect companion if you play metal or into guitar solos.

The guitar’s lows are excellent and provide a nice counterbalance to the bright, crisp trebles.  The middles are crisper than those found on other short scale guitars, and the humbucker gives the GRGM21BKN a loud, heavy sound.

The GRGM21BKN is compact enough for kids to play, but make no mistake about it this is a real guitar capable of making real music.

For kids or adults, the Ibanez GRGM21BKN gives you the opportunity to learn how to play guitar. Overall the quality is high.

Highlighted Features
  • Available in different colors
  • Setup similar to full size counterparts
  • Designed for beginners
  • Low tension 22 inch maple neck
  • Excellent sound quality

#2: Fender 144040558 Mustang 90 Short Tcale Offset Electric Guitar – Rosewood Fingerboard – Torino Red

Fender is one of the classic brands in the music world and they’ve made their mark by manufacturing quality guitars like the M90. If you go to a short scale guitar forum you’ll see it gets good feedback and here’s why.

The  M90 is 3 inches shorter than the regular Fender, but there’s not a lot of drop in sound quality. As a middle of the road Fender, the  M90 comes with quality components and a fretboard for easy playing.

Fender 6 String Mustang 90, Rosewood Fingerboard, Torino Red, (0144040558)
  • The compact 24" short scale length makes this guitar easy to play
  • Two MP-90 pickups provide additional aggression to this electric guitar tones
  • The Six-saddle string-trhough-body hardtail bridge provides excellent tuning stability and resonance
  • The comfortable "C"-shaped neck with 9.5" radius fingerboard make this guitar an absolute joy to play
  • Master volume, tone control, and three-way pickup switch puts you in control of your sound

Last update on 2020-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The M90 is portable and the alder wood body looks great. The glossy polyester finish adds a nice touch and the 24 inch body makes it easier to play than a full sized guitar.

For beginners, playing a full size Fender can be overwhelming so this is a good option. Want to adjust the volume? No problem as the 3 way pickup, tone control and master volume are all here.

The M90 fingerboard has a 9.5 inch radius that complements the C shaped neck. Even if you’re new to guitars the M90 is easy to pick up.

The 6 saddle string body adds resonance to the guitar and it also makes tuning simple. With a couple of pickups the M90 produces a more aggressive sound.

The M90 is also appropriate for those who have trouble fretting with long guitars. Because it is just 24 inches fretting is easier.

The compact shape of the M90 also makes it easier for kids to play without tiring their hands.

The M90 suits different types of genres, though it is often associated with garage rock and unconventional style. If you want to stand out from the crowd then the M90 could be for you.

Highlighted Features
  • Available in different styles
  • Easy to play
  • Controls are easy to reach
  • Comfortable neck design
  • Outstanding tuning

#3: Gibson SG Special 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Cherry

It’s hard to argue against the SG as being the best beginner short scale guitar around. At 24.7 inches it’s right smack between a regular sized guitar and the compact one.

The SG has a lightweight, thin mahogany body. It has a glossy finish that complements the double cutaway style.

A stopbar tailpiece, Tune-o-matic bridge and standard tuners make tuning straightforward. The other components add to the guitar’s visual aesthetics and anchor.

Gibson SG Special 2016 T Electric Guitar, Satin Cherry
  • Along with other guitars in Gibson USA's 2016 Traditional series the SG Faded has our original width of 1 11/16" at the nut, historic neck heel shape, standard high-quality manual tuners.
  • With a traditional Graph Tech nut, and a thicker one-piece rosewood fingerboard with a hand-rubbed oil finish for a plush look and feel.
  • Put it together, and its superb value in an American-made Gibson guitar that captures the vibe of the great originals.
  • Weight:3lbs

Last update on 2020-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 495T and the 495R humbuckers are part of the SG. These are constructed from Alnico magnets and 42 AWG wire and have been modernized to meet the needs of guitarists today.

These have been routed via a 3 way switch and tone controls for optimum performance. Like other Gibson guitars, the SG neck is glued and has the classic Gibson neck heel.

The guitar has the original 1 11/16” nut and the classic rosewood fingerboard design. The SG utilizes the same kind of tone wood that the original did.

The SG also has the same high quality hardware of the early Gibson guitars, only it has been updated for today’s guitarists.

The  SG comes with a manual and a gig bag so you can take the SG with you anywhere. With its humbucking pickups you get the same level of quality that you’d expect from this brand.

By adjusting the low action you’ll be able to fine tune the guitar to match your requirements. Slipping is minimal too as the Tune-o-matic Bridge works well.

The bottom line is this is a Gibson guitar and it’s great. The highs, lows and middles are exceptional and it puts to shame ordinary short scale guitars.

Highlighted Features
  • High end tuners
  • Excellent built
  • Oil finish is hand rubbed
  • Solid hardware
  • Traditional graph tech nut

#4: Epiphone G-400 Pro Electric Guitar with Coil-Splitting

The G-400 Pro not only comes with some of the best pickups for short scale guitar, but it’s one of the best guitars period.

The G-400 Pro is based on a 4-piece mahogany body, giving the smooth cherry finish a classic guitar appearance.

The guitar’s rosewood fretboard has 22 frets, and the slim taper D profile gives it a carved, classically styled neck. You also get a couple of Classic PRO humbuckers powered by alnico 5, with a push/pull controls for coil tapping.

Epiphone G-400 Pro Electric Guitar with Coil-Splitting, Right Handed, Guitar, Cherry Red
  • Classic SG styling
  • Alnico Classic Pro Humbuckers with Coil-Tapping
  • Wilkinson Vintage Classic Machine Heads
  • 1960's SlimTaper D profile neck
  • Mahogany body and neck

Last update on 2020-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The G-400 PRO comes with a Wilkinson 14:1 tuners and 500k pots, giving the guitar more balance and less vulnerable to neck diving.

Sound wise, the G-400 PRO has a crisp, cutting sound, perfect for rocking riffs. The pickups have a classic output and with the alnico 5 you get a tighter response.

The G-400 PRO pickups make it easy to get that contemporary rhythm, and pushing the volume back produces a smooth sound. Compared to other guitars the G-400 PRO is a bit more laid back.

It’s easy to tune the guitar so you get a more snarly sound. While the G-400 PRO is often used for classic rock and the blues, it can be adapted for metal.

If you want more snap and clean tone, set the G-400 PRO in max humbuck mode. The neck pickup has a balanced sound so it comes out clean.

The sounds off the bridge produce more aggression but there’s enough brightness for some light rock and country.

Switching to coil tapping gives it extra versatility, and the tone knob lets you fine tune the G-400 PRO even more.

Highlighted Features
  • SlimTaper “D” Profile neck
  • LockTone Tune-o-matic
  • Comes with Wilkinson Vintage Classic machine heads
  • Rugged guitar case
  • Excellent pickups

#5: Peavey Iron Man 3/4 Rockmaster Electric Guitar

The Peavey Rockmaster is one of the best short scale guitar choices for students today. Licensed by Marvel Studios, this version features Iron Man on the glossy basswood body.

Peavey worked in partnership with Marvel Studios to make these guitars come to life. Apart from Iron Man, other editions feature Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Thor, Wolverine and the X-Men.

Peavey Iron Man 3/4 Rockmaster Electric Guitar
  • Body - Basswood
  • Neck - Maple
  • Fingerboard - Rosewood
  • No. of Frets - 21
  • Pickup - 1 Humbucking

Last update on 2020-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

All of these super heroes are drawn in detail, something that should please Marvel fans and lovers of great artwork alike.

Like other Peavey guitars the Rockmaster is finely balanced and produces deep, rich tones.  With its rosewood fretboard and maple neck the Rockmaster lets you play lead, solo or backup guitar in different ways.

The Rockmaster offers plenty of controls to improve rhythm. You can easily tune the guitar via the tuner gears so you’re always in tune.

One of the most common problems with short scale guitars is they quickly get out of tune. That’s not an issue with the Rockmaster because the adjustable bridge ensures your guitar is tuned up for longer periods.

Another advantage of the Rockmaster is that you get the picks, the strap and cable. Now you don’t have to buy them separately as they’re bundled. And if you want to buy more picks you can check out those featuring other Marvel heroes like Ghost Rider and the Punisher.

A lot of the attention goes into the artwork here, but underneath it all this is a well made guitar that is suitable for students and aspiring guitarists. From rock, blues, country and others, the Rockmaster delivers.

Highlighted Features
  • Designed for students and new guitarists
  • Officially licensed by marvel studios
  • Dual action torsion rod
  • Custom made humbucking pickups
  • Beautiful basswood body

 

What are Short Scale Electric Guitars?

The scale length of a guitar refers to the distance between the saddle and nut. Anything over 25.4 inches is regarded as long while anything under that is considered short.

The most widely used short scales are 24.625, 24.75, 24.9 and 25 inches. Majority of classical and nylon string guitars are longer than 25.5 inches.

The advantage of short scale guitars is they don’t require as much arm extension. They also make fretting easier if you have small hands.

Short scale guitars are also more elastic and reduces lower string tension. They’re also lighter.

Who Invented Short Scale Electric Guitars?

Short scale guitars are nothing new, and they’ve been around for a long time so it’s difficult to establish who the inventor was. What is known is that by the 50s and 60s, short scale or student sized guitars were all over the US.

Siverstone was one of the earliest companies to make student level guitars. In time, giants like Fender and Gibson would release short scale versions of their bestselling editions.

These short scale guitars appealed to students because they were affordable and easier to play. While seen initially as just for kids, a lot of the musicians got their start with short scale guitars because they couldn’t afford a Les Paul or Stratocaster.

That was true then and it is still true now. Today there are a lot of aspiring guitarists who learn the fundamental techniques by playing a short scale.

How to Choose a Short Scale Electric Guitar

So you’ve decided to buy a short scale electric guitar, but what else should consider?

Body Type

  • Solid Body: this is the most commonly used. They’re often made of wood and range from a single to multi-pickup model.
  • Hollow Body: these guitars are hollow and have excellent resonance. Most jazz musicians prefer hollow body electric guitars for the deep bass and full tone.
  • Semi-Hollow Body: these guitars have a solid wood block in the middle that aids in feedback, sustain and stability. Semi-hollow body guitars are perfect for punk rock, jazz and the blues.

Electronics and Pickups

Pickups and electronics have a major impact on a guitar’s sound.

Single Coil Pickup

The coil pickup is the simplest, consisting of fine wire wrapped around a magnet. Coil pickups usually have a crisp, bright sound.

Single coil pickups pierce through thick sounds but are subject to magnetic interference. John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton all use single coil pickups.

Humbucker Pickups

These pickups have two magnets set opposite each other with two single coils intertwined. The design reduces the hum that affects single coil pickups.

Humbucker pickups produce a more powerful sound than single coil pickups, so it’s louder and thicker.

Humbucker pickups are suitable for heavy metal, jazz and rock. Jimmy Page, Slash and Duane Allman all use these.

Piezo Pickups

These are not as popular as humbuckers or single coil pickups, but some guitarists use them to produce digital, synthesizer or acoustic tones.

Neck Design

A guitar neck’s width and profile influences playing and how comfortable you’ll be. Majority of electric guitars have a U or C based neck. Short scale guitars have shallower, narrower necks, suited for those with small hands. The most common neck types re bolt on, neck-through and set neck.

Top Short Scale Electric Guitar Brands

Gibson

The Gibson Les Paul is considered as one of the greatest electric guitars of all time. Jimmy Page used a double necked Gibson SG for a live rendition of Stairway to Heaven, and legends Pete Townsend and Jeff Beck all use guitars by this legendary brand.

Fender

Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix both used a Stratocaster as do other great guitarists today. For many, the name Fender is the one they swear by. Fender and the Gibson are, put it simply, the biggest guitar brands.

Ibanez

Ibanez has carved a name for itself by manufacturing high quality guitars that rival those of bigger brands. Many of the top short scale guitars are made by Ibanez.

Final Verdict

All the electric guitars reviewed here are of exceptional quality, but it should probably not come as a surprise it came down to Gibson and Fender. After a thorough review however I’ll have to declare the Gibson SG the winner.

I am not going to rehash what I mentioned in my review. Let me just say that the SG is easy to use, doesn’t require a lot of tuning and it’s suitable for different genres. The SG is beautifully crafted and incorporates all the classic features you could ask for in a short scale guitar.

Hands down the Gibson SG is one of the best short scale electric guitars of all time. Whether you’re into rock, blues, jazz or other genres, the SG won’t disappoint.

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