If you're new, and wanting information on fingerboarding, or just some tips, then read on! This question based 'story' will take you through the steps of going from using the very cheapest tech deck to riding your own awesome professional fingerboard.
Whats this? A tiny skateboard?
Essentially, yes. Whilst not exactly to scale, its a small skateboard you use with your index and middle finger (note, two fingers, not three.), in the same way your two legs (feet at the end being the only difference there) ride a skateboard. And rather than goofy or regular stance, people are right or left handed stance! In each case, normal is going towards your thumb, and switch is the opposite. Simple.
..Thats all a bit lame, isn't it?
Despite the common misconception that a fingerboard is just a silly toy, and that people shouldn't play with toys because its 'uncool', fingerboarding is really fun, a great way to meet new friends, and a challenging thing to keep yourself occupied with! These days its catching up to skateboarding, so, no, its not lame. People who think its lame probably just haven't given it a proper try! And, if they don't like it, well, to each their own. Just like I'm sure we don't all agree on music tastes, we can't all find the same things interesting.
Wait, I've seen these! Isn't this 'tech-decking'?
Well, yes and no. Teck Deck, are a company, a brand, of fingerboards. They make very low quality plastic decks with horrible wheels and trucks that wobble more than jelly. Nonetheless, they're still a fingerboard. If you've got a tech deck, its still fingerboarding, because its just another brand. Look at like this. Say I had a girl skateboard deck, destructo trucks, hubba wheels, etc. I wouldn't say to my friends 'Hey! You wanna go girl-destructo-hubba-ing?', that just would sound particularly stupid and as there, you don't say the brand, you say what you're doing, skateboarding. In the very same sense, if you want to call it tech-decking, should I call it 'flatface-substance-brr-ex-ing'? No. Fingerboarding. Just makes it easier, see?
..Okay, that makes a lot of sense. I heard fingerboards can be expensive, why pay that much when tech-decks are cheap?
Well, because they're just not very good to use. They're useful, because at a low price people can try fingerboarding, and if they like it, slowly move up from tech-decks part by part until they have a setup they're happy with. Its really like the difference between using a cheapy £5 skateboard you get from a sports store, to a professional skateboard. The difference in performance is vast, so, you'll probably want to switch from tech deck if you're finding you like fingerboarding.
My friend got sponsored? Is that important?
Sponsorship in fingerboarding is very different to skateboarding. Making a company is as easy as saying you're doing so, so, many people can get sponsored by companies that don't really bother selling products as they're just no good, and its all for show. (Look out for a lot of these on youtube.) If you really get good, a company might approach you and ask you to be on their team, but, sponsorship isn't important overall. Its all about having fun, and enjoying fingerboarding. If you get a good sponsor, congratulations! But I've seen some riders who make some sponsored people look terrible, and they're not sponsored themselves. So, it doesn't matter really.
You've mentioned skateboarding a lot, do I have to skateboard to fingerboard?
No, not at all! A fair amount of fingerboarders find fingerboarding through skateboarding, obviously the two are very related, its a small skateboard and you do skateboard like tricks on it, just, with your fingers! But, you don't have to skateboard, and no one will think anything different of you if you don't skate but you fingerboard. However close they are, they're two separate things, and its all about what you find fun!
I'm interested in getting into fingerboarding, so where is the best place I should start?
Well, the first thing to try, really, is a Tech Deck. They're really cheap and you can find them in loads of shops, from your local supermarket to toys-r-us. Its good to see if you enjoy fingerboarding before spending lots of money on a good fingerboard. Besides, tech decks can be useful, as you'll find as you read on. I'm sure you'll love fingerboarding and want to continue with it, so if you do, keep reading!
Okay, so I got a tech deck and its fun! I'd like to take it to the next level!
Well, its best to progress slowly, I wouldn't suggest going and buying a fully professional setup right away, thats not a wise move. The first thing to do would be to get a new deck. A deck, is the main part of the board, and is made of wood, normally 5 plies of veneer are pressed together in exactly the same way a skateboard is made, to make a fingerboard deck. There are many decks available, from many different companies, ranging in price from $10 being about the cheapest, to around $45 for the very expensive ones. $30 is around the average price, but, a lot of people will swear by the cheaper decks and say they're just as good as the expensive ones. Its all about preference. There are things to take into account when choosing your first deck.
Width is important. 29-30mm is standard currently, but bigger and smaller (smaller being rarer) is available. If you've got small fingers you're gonna want a 28-29mm, as it'll be hard to fully control a wider deck. If you've got long fingers, a 30+mm is good. Its not suggested to use anything more than a 30 for a first deck, really. You can always get your next deck as a wider one next time you want a deck! Also, anything more than 29mm makes getting your first deck more expensive, as you'd need new trucks as well, but, we'll cover that later.
Shape is also important. Two main aspects of a deck make its shape: kick height, and concave. Concave is how much of a dip in there is going across it width ways. You might notice a tech deck is flat. Some people like flat decks, some people like a lot of concave. Kick height is how steep the nose and tail on the deck is. A higher kick gives more pop, but, often people find high kicks hard to control, and some people like low kicks because it gives a more mellow, relaxed feel.
These two variants are normally described as low, medium, and high. A good choice for a first deck is a medium kick medium concave deck. You'll be able to decide if you want it more or less (or stay the same) amount of concave, and if you want higher, lower, or the same kicks. Medium concave medium kicks are fairly common, so, you should have no trouble finding a deck thats just right for starting out!
I got a deck and it came with this fluffy black stuff, what is it?
Ahh, tape! In fingerboarding we don't use grip, unlike skateboarding. If you've ever been bored enough to try skateboarding without socks or shoes on, you'll know how much it hurts sliding your feet against sandpaper (which is essentially what grip is). Whilst it doesn't hurt so much using a fingerboard with grip, many agree its not nice on your fingers and wanted an alternative. Many companies have now come up with tapes that are made out of a type of rubber. Its normally 1mm thin, and is specially selected so that it grips to your fingers, but allows them to move around; and its smooth! So no more scraping your fingers away with grip! The best way to put tape on a deck is to peel the back off, stick it over the deck so theres overhang on all sides, push it slightly down towards the sides, then get a nail file and go around the edges 3-4 times til its all smooth and come off. Brush off the excess with your fingers and you're good to go! There are many detailed tutorials on this on youtube.
So I've got this deck, and my tech deck, what do I do now?
Set it up! Take the trucks off your tech deck and screw them onto your new board with the tool tech decks come with, and you're good to go! Now go have a ride on it, try it out!
The trucks look a little.. small?
As mentioned earlier, buying a 28-29mm deck means you can just about get away with using tech deck trucks. Wide trucks are easily available these days, which are normally 28-29mm wide, so they fit the size of the deck better. Its up to you whether you choose to get wide trucks or stick with normal trucks for now, but, you'll probably want wide trucks sooner or later. Luckily, you can get them for as cheap as $5 so, its not much of an extra cost if you choose them, and for a teeny bit more you can get coloured ones, which is pretty cool, a nice way to customise your setup!
Is there anything I can do to my trucks? They seem wobbly..
This is the next step to making your setup perform better, tuning! There are two main things you'll want, bushings (the bits of rubber that go on the truck on the kingpin), and pivot cups (they go on the pointy bit of the hangar and let it sit more snug in the hole on the baseplate).
Pivot cups are basically just those little tiny thin plastic bracelets some people wear. They're really cheap, and, if you found somewhere to buy a deck, chances are they gave you some pivot cup material for free, or they sell some for around $1, its really cheap. Cut a small strip and set it up. Bushings can also be brought for around $2-3 dollars, they're set up the same way as the ones you already have on your tech deck trucks are, just, these are a lot better quality and help keep the setup from being wobbly. Tutorials for setting up both of these are available on youtube.
Wow, this is a lot better! But the wheels wobble and make horrid noises. What can I do?
Well, the next step for you, is, bearing wheels! Thats right, fingerboarding masterminds have managed to make wheels with bearings in. Either one or two bearings, it depends on the model of the wheel. A single bearing wheel set is cheaper, and thats a good start for getting into fingerboarding. Prices from $20 - $60 dollars, there are many brands available. You might think around $30 doesn't sound cheap, but, they're soo smooth, and will make fingerboarding even more fun for you! And they last pretty much forever, so, its a good investment if at this stage you're really enjoying fingerboarding. You can also get them in many colours, so, just another great way to make your setup feel more your own! Setting them up is simply undoing the old wheels with a tech deck tool and putting the new ones on!
These are amazing! So, what do I do now?
What do you mean? You fingerboard!
Ahaha.. well, there is one more thing you can buy for your board, professional trucks, but I'd recommend waiting a bit and just enjoying the setup you have, maybe save up and get some trucks soon. They're all fantastic products, but, I think as a beginner you should just have fun fingerboarding!
You don't need to have all these things to fingerboard. Its recommended that one day you'll progress up to bearing wheels and eventually proper trucks, but, just a wooden deck and tech deck hardware will provide you with endless fun!
Explore forums, talk to people, make friends, see if there are meetups near where you live, discuss things, show off your setup, trade things with people, find out the latest news, and above all, have fun!
And, welcome to the world of fingerboarding, we're glad to have you. :)