Scales for the Resonator Guitar

by Pete Reichwein


Welcome lovers of the Resonator Guitar (and, perhaps, the morbidly curious). This page is dedicated to the investigation of Musical Scales of various types, as played on the Resonator Guitar. At the moment, the information is constrained to the "Standard Tuning" (GBDGBD), but there are plans to support other tunings as well as 8 and 10 stringed Resonator Guitars. This page currently offers two resources: a web based application for analyzing Scales, and a document describing Scale Exercises. Both the web application and document can be downloaded.

Scale Analyzer Application

The Scale Analyzer is a web application that displays Scale Maps and Methods for various specified Keys, Scale Types, and Modes. The Scale Analyzer can be opened from the Navigation Menu to the left of this page or from any of the other pages that are displayed in this window. It is recommended that first time users open the Users Manual and read the brief "Getting Started" Section. A more detailed description of how this website is organized is presented in the Page Organization section of this page.

NOTE: Your browser must allow scripts for this application to function properly. The scripts that are executed have no malicious content. The initial load of the Scale Analyzer Page may be slow, because it requires loading a large script file, but opening the page subsequently will be faster. And since update of that page will be rare, it will seldom need to be reloaded.


The development of the document "Scale Exercises for the Standard Tuned Resonator Guitar" began in response to a thread about "practice techniques" on the resoguit-l mail list. As I began to write what I knew about the subject, it became clear that there were significant gaps in my knowledge of the Resonator Guitar Fretboard. So I set out to fill them in for my own purposes. This resulted in over 70 pages of description of Scales and tablature. I have no illusions about the contents. Anybody with a small knowledge of music in general and the Resonator Guitar in particular could have developed this, provided he or she had the patience (or obsessive compulsive behavior). The process has been very helpful to me and has added significantly to my list of practice routines.

Since writing the Practice Document, I decided that I needed to know about web technology. So I have converted it to a web document as a means for learning HTML. And for learning web scripting with JavaScript, I developed the Scale Analyzer. This capability creates Scale diagrams and tablature on demand. The Scale diagrams include "Scale Maps", which identify all places that Notes in the Scale exist on the Fretboard, and "Scale Methods", which present specific sequences of Notes for playing the Scale. Often there are multiple alternative Methods for playing a given Scale in a specified region of the neck. It should be noted that these are recommended based on my experience, but I do not claim them to be the "correct" Methods. That is dictated by what works for the individual player.

I'm sure that there are mistakes, so please let me know if you find any ( I plan to update this page as I gather new information.

How These Web Pages Are Organized

When using this application, there can be as many a three windows open simultaneously, depending on the activities of the user. These are the Document, Analyzer, and Tablature Windows. The following diagram describes how these pages interact.

Page Organization Image

Document Window

The window you are viewing is the Document Window. Besides the current document (Home Page), four other documents can be displayed here interchangeably; the Users Manual, Scale Theory, Practice Exercises, and Analysis Results Documents. Information displayed in the Document Window can be controlled by acivating links in the Navigation Menu to the left of this window, links embedded in the text of the Document Window, or links in the Analyzer Frame. If the Document Window is closed when a link in the Analyzer Frame is activated, the Document Window is reopened, and the appropriate information displayed.

Analyzer Window

The Scale Analyzer is an interactive split-screen capability for displaying Scale diagrams. It is accessed by the Scale Analyzer Link on the Navigation Menu. If the Scale Analyzer Window is open when the link is activated, the existing window is brought to the foreground. Otherwise, the Scale Analyzer Window is opened. The Scale Analyzer application automatically displays appropriate Analysis Annotation in the Text Frame based on user activity.

Tablature Window

The Scale Analyzer, provides the capability to generate Tablature for practice exercises, based on the displayed Scale. When Tablature is generated, the Scale Analyzer opens a window in which to display the Tablature. If a window already exists, it will be reused. The user has the option to print the displayed Tablature. The user may close the Tablature Window manually, or it will close automatically when the Analyzer Window is closed.

Analysis Status

The Scale Analyzer is capable of displaying an enormous amount of information, much of which is generated automatically. For example, there are approximately 1500 Scale displays that can be rendered, but the great majority of them contain redundant information. For each combination of Scale Type, Mode, Key, and Position, a "Standard" Method for playing the selected Scale is presented. This is done primarily in the interest of completeness, and not necessarily as a recommendation that a given Scale be used at all or in the manner presented. In many cases, the given Scale has not been examined with much effort. The existence of alternate Methods for a given Scale is an indication that it has been examined significantly.

Analysis Annotation is automatically displayed in the Text Frame of the Analyzer Window for the currently chosen Scale Method, if such annotation exists. It is intended that annotation be provided for Methods that have been examined, although the annotation may be spare, and in some cases unfinished. Display of a Method title without annotation indicates that that information will be provided in the future. For Methods that are not likely to be investigated in the near future, the message "Analysis information unavailable" is displayed. The following describes where effort was/is being spent.

Analysis Annotation will be expanded as time allows and as more is learned. There may also be future additions to the Scale Types.

Application Download

The Scale Analyzer Application, that is, this web page and all the pages it references, can be downloaded and installed on your computer. This will allow you to run the application in your browser without being connected to the internet. This is useful for those with slow modem connections, or for those who would rather not have to connect to use the application. Installation requires the following simple steps:

The application can then be launched by double clicking the created shortcut on the desktop, by double clicking the Home.htm file in Windows Explorer, or by clcking Start-Run and typing "C:\ScaleAnalyzer\Scales\Home.htm". Download Application Now.

Scale Practice Document Download

The Microsoft Word document "Scale Exercises for the Standard Tuned Resonator Guitar" is available for download. The document presents a brief discussion of the music theory involved, some information on playing technique, and mostly a description of Scales and Scale Exercises for all 12 keys. The largest part of this document consists of tablature. The downloaded file will be zipped (, 185KB) from which you will extract a Microsoft Word document (dobro_scales.doc, ~1MB, approximately 70 pages). Download Document Now.

All information contained in the document can be obtained on-line at this site. General information, such as descriptions of Scale Types, and Exercises can accessed from the Navigation Menu to the left of this page or from the Scale Analyzer Page. Specific information, such as Scale diagrams and tablature are generated on demand from the Scale Analyzer Page. The Scale Analyzer provides additional detailed information about strategy for playing Scales that is not contained in the Practice Document. Such info is displayed in the Text Frame.