I have a nephew, eleven years old, who wants to start learning the flute next september.

I have seen that there are flute models with two central round keys either inline with the others or slightly offset towards the small fingers of the left hand if I understand well.

He does not have large hands for his age but it is difficult to tell how they will grow. Is it a good idea to start with such an offset-G flute when young and then switch to an inline one in a few years when he will be larger?

Can he keep using an offset-G flute for all his life if he persists in playing the flute?

  • 2
    Just as a point of interest, I do not think there are many beginner flutes with inline-G keys.
    – Michael
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:53
  • @fluteflute and @Michael : thanks for your answers. I would like to accept both but the system is not designed this way so I will nominate the earliest one. I am happy I asked here (and that the beta of music.SE started sufficiently early so that I could have these advices).
    – ogerard
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 7:05

3 Answers 3


Offset-G flutes are very common, certainly for beginners, but also for advanced and professional players. The position of the keys makes no difference to the sound produced.

Few would say that there is much difference between inline/offline other than ergonomics. Offset is more comfortable for most people, but if your nephew develops long fingers later in life he can always reconsider.

A far more important consideration is that he does't strain his wrists, and cause Repetitive Strain Injury or other serious injuries. Go for the most comfortable.

  • 3
    Agree. Even flutists with larger hands generally prefer the offset-G, and I don't know ANY flute teacher who would recommend a student buy an inline-G flute.
    – NReilingh
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 20:13
  • What does RSI stand for?
    – Pyromonk
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 23:34
  • 1
    @Pyromonk I've updated the answer
    – 8128
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 12:20

For a beginner, especially with small hands, definitely an offset-G. When you are first learning, you don't need the added distraction of awkwardly reaching for the key. What the student will end up doing is playing the edge of the key, and that habit is very difficult to break.

I have heard it said that "professional" flutes are inline, but I have seen many of both. I have also heard that inline flutes have better tone, but the waveform won't change, so I doubt this. If there is a difference, it's minuscule.

  • Thanks. This agrees with the previous advice from fluteflute and makes sense in the context of my question. If I understand well, the main troubles with playing on the edge of the key is that it is at the same time unreliable and won't allow you to play with open keys later?
    – ogerard
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 7:09
  • 1
    @ogerard: That's right. Best to get it early - habits are first like cobwebs, later like cables.
    – Michael
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 13:02

The inline g# flute fetish is mainly dying. If you doubt that look at the number of used ones up for sale. For most people offset is just more comfortable. It has been proven over and over in blind tests that there is no difference in sound quality between two otherwise equal flutes.

  • When posting an answer based on statistics, it's a good idea to show your sources. Commented May 21, 2014 at 22:03

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