If you’re struggling with reaching the full range of frets on your fingerboard, maybe it’s time to try a short scale guitar.
With reduced neck lengths making riffs in every range easier to play, these best short scale electric guitars keep you rocking without struggle and strain.
Fender’s Player Mustang is a fantastic electric in all regards, earning the win in this short scale review. It’s a classic rock machine with great Fender single coil pickups. With a scale of only 24 inches, it’s one of the easiest to play electrics available today.
In the last place is a guitar suited for kids and beginners with a budget, the Oscar Schmidt OS-30. This is a ¾ size electric with a super short 22-inch scale length that plays well enough to practice all your basic skills. Its got the typical issues that accompany guitars like this at such a low price but nothing that will prevent you from jamming out.
The Top 5 Best Short Scale / Neck Electric Guitars – Overview
|Squier Short Scale Stratocaster
|Fender Player Mustang
|Epiphone SG Special VE
|Oscar Schmidt OS-30
|Peavey Rockmaster Captain America
Oscar Schmidt OS-30
- Body: Maple
- Super low price and fun playability
- 3 single coil pickups with a 5-way selector switch for a wide range of tones
- Lightweight and fatigue-free
- Pickups can be crackly and generate a lot of feedback
- Intonation can be a problem
Oscar Schmidt’s OS-30 is put together sturdily, but its materials are pretty low-grade. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad guitar, it just won’t ever be an instrument you’d want to hop on stage with.
I like its lightweight design and think it looks pretty cool for such a low-cost guitar. If I were a fresh beginner, this would be one of my top choices for a first electric. Still need something cheaper? Check out these electric guitars under $100.
There’s no spec listed for the OS-30’s pickups, so I have no way to tell you what model they use. What I can tell you is how they sound and their performance capabilities.
In general, this is a pretty standard electric with an overall basic tone. The highs are definitely the most prominent, owed to the maple neck without much rounding out in the low end. Still, you can practice pretty much any genre; just maybe not with the full tonal vibrance of the pros.
With three single coil pickups, you can modify your tone in several ways, but there will always be a little something lacking in the bass end.
The scale length of the OS-30 is a really easy 22 inches. This lets you play up and down the neck with no problem, putting all the frets within easy reach.
The rosewood fingerboard is slick and smooth as rosewood always is, adding speed for beginners who wanna shred.
Probably the OS-30’s best bonus feature is the tremolo bar. With this, you can really get funky and add a lot of fun to your practice time.
Peavey Rockmaster Captain America
- Top: Aluminum
- Body: Basswood
- Back: Basswood
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- 22.5-inch scale length on fast-playing Peavey neck
- Affordable and in a variety of players packs
- Perfect kid-friendly or comic-fan finish
- Single humbucker doesn’t give much punch
This short scale electric guitar has a cool Captain America finish pulled straight from the Marvel universe. It’s a great small-size guitar for kids or comic-loving beginners who want to learn the basics of guitar.
Its sturdy maple neck is bolted to a lightweight basswood body in a compact size that makes playing in any range a breeze.
Despite its low price, the Rockmaster has decent hardware, including dependable tuners that keep you sounding good throughout your practice sessions.
Whereas the OS-30 might have one too many pickups for a guitar made for beginners, the Peavey Rockmaster seems to have one too few.
A single humbucker sits in the Rockmaster’s body, yet another unspecified model. It does a better job of boosting the low and mid ranges than the OS-30 but doesn’t deliver a lot of crunch.
Thankfully, the single humbucker will keep feedback to a minimum, so parents don’t have to worry about woeful wailing feedback while their kids practice.
I love Peavey necks. They’re some of the slimmest, fastest, and funnest in the industry. The Rockmaster has all these features packed into a really short 22.5-inch scale length, so you can fly up and down the fretboard without overstretching.
My favorite thing about the Peavey Rockmaster is that you have the option of getting it in different accessory bundles. Some of these have the basic accessories like a strap and picks, while others are complete with a stand and amp. All of this comes at a low price, making this a great guitar for beginners without a lot of extra spending money.
Epiphone SG Special VE
- Top: Mahogany
- Body: Mahogany
- Back: Poplar
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- A balanced, powerful tone
- Thick lows, smooth highs, full mids
- Classic Gibson SG looks and feel
- Frets can have sharp edges
If you love the look of Gibson’s classic SG electric but can’t even think about its price, Epiphone’s answer is a great option for you.
Though it’s not made as true-to-form as other Epiphone models like the Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro, they still did a good job of providing a quality affordable electric using low-cost materials.
The poplar body coupled with a mahogany veneer makes for a beautiful instrument that feels as good as it looks.
The Epiphone SG Special VE’s one major construction flaw is the improperly ground fret edges. These sharp frets can snag your fingers and be a major pain, but you can take it to a guitar tech for a quick fix or learn to file them yourself.
Epiphone’s pickups aren’t top-of-the-line, but they’re still enough to give you a full playing experience. This model comes with dual humbuckers that can be manipulated using a 3-way selector switch and master tone control.
You’re a bit limited on tonal versatility due to the lack of a second tone knob, but the factory-set sound is overall fat and enjoyable.
The SG Special’s poplar body produces thick and creamy lows that don’t harsh out at the high end, packing a punch in every range. Its harmonic factor is nice and full but tempered just a bit by the okoume neck, so you don’t sound muddy no matter what your playing style.
SlimTaper D is the neck profile used on a lot of Epiphones, this one included. It’s one of my favorite neck shapes, with just enough heft to grind out heavy chords without slowing you down with extra bulk.
This is designed following Gibson’s standard 24.75-inch scale length. While it’s not the shortest neck in this review, it’s still significantly smaller than a full-scale guitar and is extremely fun and easy to play on.
Would I play a show with the Epiphone SG Special VE? Probably not before a pickup upgrade. If you’re wondering how to change your pickups and would like to work on your guitar tech skills, this is a great project electric that can be modified in many ways. You can read about upgrading your pickups here.
Squier Short Scale Stratocaster
- Top: Poplar
- Body: Poplar
- Back: Poplar
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Great players pack with everything you need to start playing
- 24-inch scale length makes a compact, easy-playing Stratocaster
- Poplar and maple tonewood combo gives a lively, energetic tone
- Low-quality tuning machines slip out of place
It’s a rare day that a Squier ranks so high on one of my reviews, but this Short Scale Stratocaster has really impressed me.
This model follows many of the original Strat specs, with just a few tonewood substitutions to bring costs down to an affordable level.
It’s a dependable electric that can be used for practicing any genre you’d like, and it’s short scale means you’ll be free from playing fatigue hours into your sessions.
Stratocasters are never going to be the heaviest rockers, but they can still hold their own in a variety of rock genres. This Squier Short Scale edition has three single coil pickups that do a good job of pulling sound from the poplar body.
For pop, classic rock, and jazz, this is one of the best beginner models on the market. But, don’t feel limited to those genres. In at-home playing, you’ve got a great deal of applications you can put this to use in, and should only experience major feedback if you crank the volume too high.
Most Stratocasters are 25.5-inches in scale, a significant amount longer than this 24-inch model. I think it’s a great electric in terms of playability, giving easy access to the higher frets and having a solid C-shaped neck for low-end chord work.
The real selling point of this model is the player’s pack, which comes with an excellent Frontman 10G amp, a strap, picks, a tuner, and a 10-foot instrument cable. You can start rocking right out of the box.
Like the Epiphone above, it’s a great project guitar. You could swap out the pickups, change the tuning machines, or even replace the whole neck. This article is a great guide on how and what to upgrade in an electric guitar.
Fender Player Mustang
- Top: Maple
- Body: Alder
- Back: Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Maple
- Snappy sound and poppy playability
- Hardtail string-through-body bridge adds resonance and tuning stability
- 22 frets for four octaves of playing potential
Fender’s Player Mustang is a vintage-style guitar with modern twists to add to its already-great sound and playability.
The Mustang body shape is a bit unconventional looking, but it’s really comfortable once you get used to it, and benefit your on-stage image in a delightful way.
Being a true Fender, this Player Mustang is solidly built, with no construction problems to speak of. All its woods are high quality, along with its hardware, pickups, and everything in between.
Alder and maple combine to give the Player Mustang a really bright, joyful tone. It works best in softer, pop-esque rock genres, but can perform pretty well in heavier styles also.
In general, Fenders are known for their treble-heavy crisp voices and are great for styles like jazz and pop. The Mustang delivers in these areas and more, with enough bass and mid boost to rock out real hard.
Thanks to its hardtail string-through-body bridge design, you get loads of sustain and added resonance. Every note shines true and can sing out for ages.
The Mustang single coils are powerful pickups that transmit every nuance of your playing style, so your personality is apparent in each riff and lick.
At only 24 inches, this is one of the shortest scale Fenders. It’s great for players with small hands or short arms, or for anyone who prefers a reduced scale length. I think it’s a perfect music machine that is enjoyable to play without feeling like a toy.
The Fender Player Mustang is totally stage- and studio-ready, with no need to upgrade or fix anything before taking it out for performances. Fenders are some of the best electric guitars for the money, and I’d recommend the Mustang to anyone looking for a fully-functional short scale electric.
The Final Word
Smaller guitars are some of the easiest instruments to learn on, and these are some of the best short scale electric guitars you can find.
Just because they’re smaller than full-size guitars doesn’t make them any less capable of blowing away a crowd. So, if you don’t want to stretch yourself to agony trying to play a full-scale instrument, don’t hesitate to go with a guitar that fits your body size better.
For even more small-size guitars, check out our review of the best electric guitars for small hands.