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Flute Talks: Inline vs. Offset G Key

Over the years, the inline versus offset G on the flute has become a debated point among professional, amateur, and student flutists. The offset G has been a standard feature on closed-hole student flutes, making it an easier reach for young students with small hands. Once a student advanced to an open-hole flute, the inline G used to be the way to go. Silicone or cork plugs would be used to close any holes still difficult for the player to reach.

Advantages of Inline

 An inline G key can be integrated right into the mechanism of the other tone hole keys, presumably making it easier to manufacture. An offset G key must have its own set of ribs, posts, and key rods, which adds a bit of weight to the instrument.

Advantages of Offset

The offset G is more ergonomic, harkening back to the rationale of having an offset G on student instruments.

Offset G Stigma

All that being said, there was a stigma for a number of years that having an offset G made you less of a professional. We can look back on decades of some of the greatest flutists of our time who suffered from performance-related hand and forearm injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. This isn’t something that happens to all flutists playing on an inline G flute, but a correlation can be made that the offset G stigma may have contributed to these injuries.

In our current day and age of self-care and movement efficiency, the ergonomic benefits of having a more reachable G key should be considered when purchasing a flute. 

The bottom line is that a flutist should play what is most comfortable and what will help him or her be the best musician they can be.