How to Purchase Your First Surfboard

Two Methods:Used SurfboardsNew Surfboards

Purchasing a first surfboard is an exciting experience. There are many factors that it entails, and you want to be sure your choice is a good one. Once you've purchased your surfboard and used it, it no longer belongs to the surf shop and usually can't be returned like a microwave or stereo.


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    Decide if you want to buy a used or new surfboard. Your purchase of a surfboard is a lot like buying a musical instrument. Some used surfboards are much better than some new ones and likewise with musical instruments. Experienced luthiers make the best sounding, playing, and looking guitars. They choose the best materials and use the finest tools. Experienced surfboard manufacturers make the best surfboards for these same reasons. Never compromise a quality used surfboard for a low end/mass produced new surfboard. Mass produced surfboards are like mass produced instruments. They lack the proper workmanship, materials, and subtle details. In the end, a mass produced product will be a major crutch to the consumers.

Method 1
Used Surfboards

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    Find out about surf shops at your local surf breaks and trusted Internet surfboard forums (see "external links" below). Ask an approachable surfer, where in town carries the best selection of used surfboards. Be sure to tell him/her that you are learning and plan to surf in the beginner's spots.
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    Try to buy a surfboard that was made by one of your local surfboard shapers. After you have gained experience and time in the water, you will understand why all too well. You should buy a hand shaped surfboard made with fiberglass or epoxy material. Stay away from "soft" surfboards (see "warnings" below regarding other types of surfboards that are available".)
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    Explain to the surf shop employee how long you have been surfing, where you surf, how often you surf, and to what level surfing you would like to progress to. A good surf shop employee should take that information and be able to sell you a good used surfboard that will help you progress to that next level!

Method 2
New Surfboards

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    Buy from a local shaper. After you have gained experience and time in the water, you will understand this all too well.
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    Ask your surf shop employee or shaper (if you are buying a custom) for assistance. The great thing about buying a new surfboard is the variety is usually much greater than the used surfboards in the shop. If you're buying a custom surfboard, the shaper will make for you exactly what you need.
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    Think ahead and predict what surfing breaks you will be surfing at and ask the salesperson at the surf shop for advice. Their advice will be extremely accurate. Scout the different breaks and use these criteria:
    • What season are the waves rideable or is the break year round.
    • Distance to drive to the break.
    • Is is safe to park your car there?
    • Shower and restroom facilities.
    • Are hazards there like shallow reefs, sharks, sea urchins, hostile locals, too crowded etc.
    • Is there a lifeguard?
    • What type of break to you prefer, do you like long or short rides?. Do you like sloping waves or steep waves?
  4. 4
    Consider having a quiver of boards and with your first board a longboard.

A longboard may seem boring, but when the waves are very small longboards are the only way to surf.

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  • "Glass On" fins have their advantages, but fin systems make surfboards easier to store, travel with, and you can use different fins to change the performance characteristics. Red-X, LokBox, Future fins, and traditional long board center fin boxes are at the forefront of fin system technology. FCS fin systems fail very often, and repairs can be costly.
  • The most important factor in any surfboard is performance, which should never be compromised for colors and logos.
  • Remember, a shiny new surfboard doesn't mean you will surf like Kelly Slater. Practice, practice, practice. Surfing is a difficult sport. Respect it, and the other surfers who have paid their dues!


  • Beware of surf shop employees that try to steer you away from buying a fiberglass or epoxy local made surfboard and try to sell you a lower grade surfboard.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Surfing