Short Scale Bass for a Guitar Player --- Choices!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by soundchaser59, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Texican Trapped in a Corn Field!

    Sep 15, 2011
    Star City / River City
    Wonder if some of you might help me narrow this down a bit. I'm a guitar player who does a lot of home recording and some occasional light bass work on stage. But I have short fingers and smaller hands, so the full size Fender Jazz 62 AVRI I currently use is a challenge for me. Just learned about short scale, but the comments and recommends are like a pinball game, point - counterpoint, volley left volley right, etc.etc....

    So here is the temporary sum of my research for the day, but hoping you guys know more about: build qualities, hum or intonation issues, does age matter, is a 78 Musicmaster near mint condition as good as a 2006 Mustang, do I really need 3 pickups and a 7 position switch, will semi-hollow kill my classic rock tunes, (and I haven't had a chance to interrogate my luthier yet for her opinions!)

    What matters most to me? light weight, little or no hum, perfectly in tune all the way up the neck, durable, neck stays straight, easier to play lower action, comes with HSC, under $1k used or new.

    Music: blues rock, jazz rock, classic rock, some ballads, very lite fusion, no metal no distortion, for context think a 7 or 10 piece rock or funk band with a loud drummer.

    Without further ah-doo-doo, here is my current list of contenders.....add a name to it if you feel strongly about what you know.

    Hofner - Galaxie
    Fender - Jaguar, Mustang, Musicmaster, Rascal, Bullet
    Guild - Starfire, Jetstar
    Ibanez - Artcore, SR655 (5 string)
    Gibson - SG
    Reverend - Wattplower, Dub King

    EDIT: reading good reviews on Yamaha as a good build quality.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  2. Squier Jag SS. Bodyweights vary so try a few out until you get one with zero neck dive. Some dive and some don't.

    All basses have to be set up and intonated etc etc at some point.

    In reality, on the Jag SS,other than "set-up", you don't have to do any mods to them. (Except maybe strings). They sound and play fine the way they are. (At least mine does).

    Good bang for the buck.

    I don't know what style of music you play...but I record at home quite a bit and I use D'addario Half-rounds on mine and they sound great/nice playability. But I don't slap at all.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    design, CalBuzz51, 1bassleft and 3 others like this.
  3. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Welcome to Talkbass!

    That happens here, lots of opinionated people. The real story is getting an instrument is more about what you want and need than what anyone else says. The majority of the famous bassists out there cared more about the music than what brand of bass they used, at least initially, before the endorsement deals and being in the "in crowd".

    There is a paradox that the US Airforce learned way back in the day when they were designing cockpits. That is if you design an item to fit a person who is average size, then you've made that item fit no one. There is a lot of variation in body dimension person to person is the take away.

    Given we have these instruments you can tweak every which way, it's possible to get one that fits you better than will fit someone else. Bring in to the picture budget concerns, etc. and it's really not one size fits all.

    I'd suggest getting a Mustang PJ from Fender if you want a good mix of different bass tones in an instrument that operates and feels more like an electric guitar. Otherwise honestly most of the ones you suggested would be alright for build and sound, even if they sound quite different bass to bass.

    What sort of tone are you after? What kind of bass do you want to play? Is it only to write some basic lines for your guitar parts, or for something else?

    If you're shooting for playing some rock than a P bass is all you need. For short scale, the traditional Mustang. Check out the JMJ signature mustang bass, for example. The simple controls and fatter tone will be nice for a person adding bass parts to their guitar songs.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    soundchaser59 and fermata like this.
  4. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've owned several of the instruments in your list and played the others with the exception of the Guild Jetstar which I've never tried. I've also used more shortscales over the last few decades that aren't on your list.

    After all that, my current gig basses are a Hofner HCT Galaxie (7.5 lbs) and a Hofner Ignition Club Bass (4.5 lbs). The Club provides the typical Hofner hollowbody tone that's more comfortable than a "Beatle" bass for me to play while seated with a small club/restaurant jazz combo and it has a very easy for me to play narrow neck. The Galaxie gives me solidbody tones with a similar neck but a higher weight penalty.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    b-b-b-bass and soundchaser59 like this.
  5. jonnybass1


    Dec 9, 2011
    Brampton, On
    i believe that the Fender Mustang PJ bass will suit all your needs. Easy to play feels great and will sound amazing in any genre.
  6. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'm currently seeking the perfect short-scale myself.
    A lot of research on here is very much leading me to the Epiphone Allen Woody Rumblekat.
  7. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Texican Trapped in a Corn Field!

    Sep 15, 2011
    Star City / River City
    From the OP:
    I'm not trained as a bass player, self taught only, so I dont even know how to use my fingers, certainly don't know how to slap......I'm limited to using a felt pick, never knew any better. When I was little they just handed me the bass and said "Try this." And that was after I'd already learned quite a bit on the 6 stringer.
  8. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Texican Trapped in a Corn Field!

    Sep 15, 2011
    Star City / River City
    Thanks! Been lurking/reading/browsing for 6 years, but never had reason to post (as I'm a guitar player / keyboard player) until now.

    I think by far the recommends (across all forums, all sources) for the Mustang have outnumbered all others at least 2:1 if not more. A thousand Americans can't be wrong! :bassist:

    I grew up listening to Chicago, Steely Dan, Skynyrd, some 4 piece jazz, Tower of Power, Dave Grusin, Weather no distortion, no metal, just articulate rock and jazz rock and blues rock, nothing really boomy or in need of a 10,000 watt sub woofer! I was never trained, so I just defaulted to using a felt pick when I was younger and never learned how to use fingers or how to slap.

    If I could put into words my main complaint with my AVRI 62 Jazz, it would be that it's so big for my hands that I can't control the strings very well. I have a really hard time playing sharp, crisp notes fast notes or crisp articulate passages. It has a great variety of sounds available, great sustain, but my bass tracks always sound kinda inarticulate.

    For reference, with my index finger on an F#, I cannot play the A 3 frets up with my little finger. My index - little finger reach is only 2 frets at that position on a 34 inch scale.

    90% of it will be me putting bass tracks to my own self-produced recordings and recording collabs I do with others in town. My preferred styles are listed in the OP. The other 10% might be playing in a "P&W" setting or maybe filling in on rare occasions with a blues band or a classic rock bar band, nothing dazzling, just local stuff where the crowd is impressed if everyone in the band shows up and stays sober.

    Sure, I love good tone, but my ear ranks perfect intonation and reliability / build quality slightly above any attempts I may have at getting perfect tone. IOW, what it may lack in tone perfection won't matter for my uses as much as ease of play and perfect tuning.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  9. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    this is probably a personal taste thing, but i love my mustang - it's one of the newer P/J models. warm, rich tone on one of the switch positions, very vintage and classic rock. but the other two positions have less bass if you need someone with less thump. feels great to play, comfortable and everything on mine is just right. i love my short scale squier jaguar, which is lots of fun to play. the ibanez mikro, with its 28.6" scale, is also lots of fun, but i find this is one you need to play in person as there's a lot of variation from tone to smoothness of the neck.

    i passed on the rascal after someone on this board showed us how long they are compared to other short scales, and they're heavier than the mustang. gibson SG basses can be nice, as is their low priced epiphone EB-0.
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  10. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    "I'm a guitar player who does a lot of home recording and some occasional light bass work on stage."

    A little context: I'm a another former, long-time guitar player who only started focusing pretty much exclusively on bass about 3 or 4 years ago. All my basses are shorties (I started my transition on an MIJ Mustang).

    "But I have short fingers and smaller hands, so the full size Fender Jazz 62 AVRI I currently use is a challenge for me."
    Without further ah-doo-doo, here is my current list of contenders.....add a name to it if you feel strongly about what you know.
    Hofner - Galaxie
    Fender - Jaguar, Mustang, Musicmaster, Rascal, Bullet
    Guild - Starfire, Jetstar
    Ibanez - Artcore, SR655 (5 string)
    Gibson - SG
    Reverend - Wattplower, Dub King"

    The Dub King is probably going to feel "bigger" to you than either the Mustang or the Guild Starfire. I make that observation based on personal experience. The Dub King has a wider neck (both at the nut and in the upper registers) than those of the other two and its bridge is located further away from the bottom of the lower bout (than that of the Mustang) which moves the nut away from your body, making it feel more like a 34"-er. So, of those three, the Mustang will feel the smallest, followed by the Guild and the Dub King will feel the largest.

    Stated another way: the string spacing on the Mustang and Guild will likely feel more "guitar-like" to you than that of the Dub King, so you may find them to be more comfortable to play. That's not to imply that there's anything wrong with the Dub King (it's a great bass) but strictly in terms of ergonomics, that's how those three shake out, in my experience.

    I'd also recommend putting flat wound strings on whatever you wind up buying. They are way easier than rounds on both frets and fingers (+ sounding "better" on bass, at least IMHO) and all but eliminate extraneous finger/string noise.

    I've come to the conclusion that first finding an instrument that is physically comfortable for me to play is paramount. As long as it's got decent tone to start with, a lot can be done to augment/supplement that by selecting the right amp and/or pedals (or even swapping in other p'ups) to compliment/enhance its strengths. If the bass itself feels uncomfortable to hold and play, however, you'll be kinda stuck with that (though swapping on lighter tuners or relocating the upper strap button [when there's neck-dive] may help).

    FWIW, my vote goes to the Guild Starfire.

    My 2¢.
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  11. I have a few short scale basses, including some of the ones you mentioned.

    The Fender Mustang PJ and Gibson SG basses are well-made instruments. They sound very different, though. If you're looking for the common Fender kinds of bass tones, the Mustang PJ would be the way to go.

    I have not played the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar SS, but from my experience with other Squier VM instruments, I would expect it to be a good choice.

    You might also consider either of the following:

    Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI: This is a 30" scale instrument with six strings, tuned an octave below standard guitar (that is, tuned like a four-string bass with high B and E strings added, rather than a low B). String spacing is like a guitar rather than like a bass, so for the guitarist who wants to be able to do bass occasionally, it can be a good choice. The original 1960s Fender Bass VI was used by John Lennon on a handful of Beatles songs, and Jack Bruce also used it on Cream's first album (after which, he switched to the Gibson EB-3, which is the ancestor of today's Gibson SG bass).

    Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Bass: This is an unusually short bass with a scale length of 28.6" and sells new for $180. It's remarkably good for the money, and after a proper setup it plays well. I'm still trying to figure out the optimal string gauges for it; the .040"-.095" set that comes with it seems too light, particularly the E string.
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  12. I like my Rumblekat. Lightweight and very easy to play. Inexpensive and nice looking to me. Tuners are just okay. I don't get much high end from the mini buckers but I'm using flats (Chromes). I'm going to try some rounds soon.
  13. dxb


    Dec 25, 2016
    The Fender Mustang PJ on sale for $400 at Adorama is a great choice. I got one a month ago and its quickly becoming my favorite bass. Looks like the sale is still going, not sure for how much longer though:

    Fender Mustang Bass PJ

    There's a long thread about it in Hot Deals:

    Fender Mustang limited color 399 Adorama
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  14. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    I GAS for this Short scale Gretsch Junior Jet....comes in all black too

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  15. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    If your local pawnbroker happens to have an old Rickenbacker 3000, I would snatch it up...
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  16. user362432

    user362432 Guest

    Dec 27, 2002
    Check out Eastwood guitars. They have some short scale nice things.
    Fender_Bender likes this.
  17. RedJag


    Mar 2, 2016
    San Jose, CA
    Anything you see in Mike Kerr’s hands (from Royal Blood)
  18. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    I think a Mustang PJ would fit in pretty well from what you're saying there. It's a good mix of tones from all the different basses you called out originally, plus fits with the genres you mentioned.

    I'd also suggest getting yourself a set of Chromes or other bright flats. They just last longer and bass strings are expensive. On a Mustang PJ the bridge pickup sweetens it up nicely.

    If you need a woofy 60s tone, use the neck pickup and roll the tone down. It's almost spot on due to the shorter scale on that bass.

    Otherwise, you have P tones, simulated Jazz tones, and then a burpy solo tone in the bridge. Even the bridge pickup sounds great. It still has some bass frequencies to support it.
    fermata and soundchaser59 like this.
  19. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Texican Trapped in a Corn Field!

    Sep 15, 2011
    Star City / River City
    Any thoughts on the difference between MIM Mustangs and MIJ Mustangs? The few MIJ Mustangs I've seen have 7.25 radius necks, while the MIM Mustangs have the 9.5 radius neck. Is the 7.25 radius easier for small hands?

    That "MIJ" designation also seems to add a couple hundred to the prices. Is the Jappon build quality that much better?

    Fender must have hit on a nice formula with those Mustangs, cuz the recommends from all sources all forums for getting a Mustang outweigh all other recommends 2:1 or 3:1 easily.
  20. alder

    alder Inactive

    Feb 17, 2012
    Danelectro Longhorn


    Baritone & Bass | Danelectro Guitars

    These things play and sound much better than they ought to, if you want something different. It's in the rosewood bridge and the lipstick pickups and the Masonite. Look for a used one from the 90's or a fairly recent one - Korean-made. In between is Chinese - ok, but not as good or as sought-after.

    You'll certainly get noticed with one of these. Very lightweight, and fully shielded pups are pretty quiet. Series wiring makes it sound bigger than it is. Guitar tuners don't feel great, but are adequate for a short scale. Very guitar-like neck.

    This guy is pretty honest about everything. The noise is not typical.

    This gives a better idea of the sound.

    This is just trippy.

    Much of Springsteen's early stuff was recorded with one of these as well. After Entwistle broke the last Danelectro he could get, he recorded the track with a Jazz bass. He later said that what he did on the Jazz did not compare to what he wanted to do on the Danelectro.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    Mvilmany and CalBuzz51 like this.