When purchasing a flute, especially an intermediate or professional model, one of the decisions you will need to make is choosing between an inline-G or offset-G style flute.
Before delving into the differences, please note that there is absolutely no difference in the sound quality, playability, or tone of the flute regardless of which setup you choose. You may come upon articles here and there that mention technical issues with one or the other, but the major manufacturers have all overcome these issues, leaving the key arrangement up to personal preference in most instances.
What’s The Difference?
Simply put, the only difference is that on an inline-G flute, the “G” key is “in-line” with the rest of the keys (also known as French style). In an offset-G configuration, the “G” key is “offset” from the rest of the keys, and it is easy to see that the two keys are set down lower than the rest of the keys on the flute.
Historically, flutes were typically built with an inline configuration, until the mid 1800’s when the Boehm flute was introduced. The Boehm style flute is most commonly played today. When it was introduced, the original designs all possessed an offset-G, which was easier and less expensive to produce. Over 150 years later, many players still consider the offset-G to be for students only, with the idea that professional flutes are always inline-G configurations.
Over the past 10 years, the offset-G has become much more common in intermediate and professional level flutes. Beginners should start on an offset-G flute. It better accommodates smaller hands and shorter fingers. When purchasing the intermediate or professional flute, the real decision is making the choice between sticking with tradition and purchasing an inline-G flute, or going the route that probably makes more sense, and purchasing an offset-G flute. The transition would be much easier for the student. Nearly every model flute from the major companies is available in either configuration. Ultimately, the best advice will most often come from your private instructor or band director.
For more information on specific flute models, browse our selection of student, intermediate, and professional flutes at HysonMusic.com