Thinking of getting a custom surfboard? Here’s what to expect from the process & some top tips to make sure you get EXACTLY what you want!
Thinking about buying a custom surfboard and want to make sure you get exactly what you want?
Well here are all the questions you’ll need to think about, how to find the perfect shaper and a few helpful hints that will help avoid some massive disappointment!
Buying A Custom Surfboard – What You Need To Know BEFORE You Buy
Why Buy A Custom Surfboard?
So why would you buy a custom surfboard rather than just grab one off the rack? Well here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of ordering a custom v grabbing a board straight off the rack:
- Tailored to your skills/goals
- Customised to fit your height and weight
- Option for your preferred graphics/spray/colour
- Pick your preferred fin setup
- Supporting grass roots, local shapers
- Great for those looking for unique or hybrid designs
- Expert advice throughout the whole buying process – from board and dimensions to fins
- Manufacturing times
- Lack of demo models
- Higher price point
- Finding the right shaper
‘Off The Rack’/Stock Boards
- Large range of shapes, shapers and price points to choose from
- Can order online
- Quick and easy to get in the water – no wait time
- Many big brands available worldwide
- Usually demo models available
- Plenty of surf shops to choose from where you can go check everything out
- May need to shop around a lot to find the right board
- Unable to customise any part of the shape or design – there’s always a compromise
- Easy to get sucked into marketing and end up with the wrong board
- Lack of expert advice (unless you go into a decent surf shop!)
If you’re a beginner surfer the chances are an off the rack board will suit you just fine, it’s just a case of figuring out the right shape and size. However for more experienced surfers a custom surfboard will really help you progress heaps and it’s also a great option as a birthday or xmas present too.
…however if you decide to get a custom surfboard as a surprise make sure you do your homework before ordering, it could easily get really wrong!
Local Shaper v Big Brands
Even when you jump into the custom surfboard option you’re still presented with a range of shapers to choose from – including both grassroots, local shapers to big worldwide brands.
Honestly I feel if you’re going the custom surfboard route supporting a solid, local shaper is the way to go and a quick google search will bring up a range of options in your area.
Chatting to your local surf shop is also a solid option here too and they can often take custom orders for local shapers.
Choosing A Shaper For Your Custom Surfboard
This is the million dollar questions – how do you pick a good shaper and make sure they’re going to do a good job?
Well here’s some info a good shaper will ALWAYS ask, if they’re not asking these questions then those are some red flags!
- Fitness level
- Current board
- Surfing ability (be honest!)
- Type of wave you’re surfing most often
- What you want out of the board (travel stick, starting airs, nailing cutbacks, just surfing green waves)
Chat to other surfers is also a great bet too, ask your local crew who they recommend, but also who they’d avoid as well!
Experiment Before Ordering
If you’re jumping in with a customer surfboard order then it’s important to try a range of different shapes, lengths, styles and see how they feel and how it affects your surfing before ordering.
It doesn’t have to necessarily be the exact board or brand you’ll be ordering from – just make sure you know what you want!
No point ordering a custom, twin fin fish if you’ve never surfed one before and then it turns out you hate them!
Check out my surfboard shapes guide for some helpful hints and tips on your next board
Listen, But Also Contribute
When it comes to ordering a customer surfboard the shapers are the experts, but also don’t be afraid to ask for a little more volume if you feel you need it, or start from scratch if the proposed board doesn’t fit what you want.
At the end of the day it’s your money so you need to get what you want, but please make sure you take the shapers advice on board as well!
Colours & Finishes
The chances are, if you’re ordering a custom surfboard you want a specific colour/finish.
So it’s important to keep in mind that phone screens have different colour profiles and people have different colour perceptions – so the easiest way to make sure you get the colour you want is to head to your local hardware store and find the paint swatch that matches it.
Then physically give it to them. That way there’s no lost in translation or interpretation!
If you’re going the coloured board route, there’s then also the type of colour finish you want.
A cut lap tint is often the most budget friendly and easiest to do – but results in 3 depths of colour.
Tinted rails look sick but take more time to get right and therefore cost more.
Sprays offer the most precise finish, but add an extra step to the custom surfboard process, so therefore some extra cost too.
And on top of all of that, do you want it factory fresh of add gloss and polish to the mix?
There’s a lot to think about – so making sure you have these questions answered before you order will streamline the whole process. If you have some pics of some options you like the look of that will help make sure you get the right final product too!
Finalise The Details
As well as all the core details, when buying a custom surfboard it’s also important not to overlook all the little details either. The last thing you want is to go collect your new stick and it has the wrong fin boxes in it!
Here are some of the details you want to make sure everyones on the same page about
- Fin box type (Future or FCS2?)
- Fin box colour (black or white?)
- Fin setup (single fin, 2+1, quad, thruster, twin, 5 fin…or something else!)
- Logo placement
- Matte or gloss finish
Deciding on the specifics of your custom surfboard can be a time consuming process and might involve numerous texts/calls/emails – so when you come to ordering make sure you send a summary of the details in writing. That way the exact final design is there, in a single, easy to access message.
As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait” and this is certainly the mindset you need when ordering custom surfboards. If it can be shaped, glassed and in your hands within a week the chances are you’re not getting a good board!
Expect to wait anywhere between 3-6 weeks for a custom surfboard, with longer waits over peak periods (think xmas and the beginning of summer) and for larger brands.
Keep in mind this is the manufacturing time – it doesn’t include all the pre buying chat you’ll be having with your shaper to work out all the specifications. The total process on my latest board by took about a week to figure out the spec and details (mainly as I was super busy and didn’t reply too quickly!), then a further 3 weeks to make the whole thing.
Obviously if you’re only customising things like colour (rather than the overall shape) this process will be a lot quicker, but it depends how customised you’re going.