Many pinball machine owners have heard of pinball mods but only a few of them know exactly what sorts of modifications they can do to their own machines. Pinball lights are about the simplest and most common type of modification machine owners pick up to introduce themselves to modding. However, there are many other types of pinball modifications that can be applied to pinball machines in order to improve their appearance, function, and/or performance.
A pinball mod is any type of modification, alteration, or additional installation/feature made to a pinball machine. These are additions that don’t come standard on production pinball machines and they are available in the form of additional playfield features, lighting enhancements, toppers, toys, and any other installation or add-on that works to change the way a pinball machine operates, looks, and functions.
When it comes to lighting modifications and upgrades, modders typically have a choice between traditional incandescent bulbs or LED bulb kits. Hobbyists nowadays prefer pinball LED kits, which are used to swap out bulbs found in production machines. LED upgrades are not only more luminescent—they are also more energy efficient and they can be further modified to switch colors or to implement dramatic effects that correspond to movements within the playfield.
When installing pinball lights, it is important to know about basic lighting mod principles as well as the critical elements that you will likely have to navigate around as you put new lights in place. Here are some basic pinball lighting mod principles you should know about before opening up your machine’s cabinet:
These are colored plastic windows installed all across your playfield, where lights shine through from underneath. Inserts indicate different things like the shots the player should go for, what the current bonus or goal is, and other signals that help command the flow of the game.
GI or general illumination lights
GI lights provide general illumination (as the name suggests). They sit on the playfield, although they are typically covered and protected by plastic artwork. They help increase the game’s visibility and are there to provide lighting but really only in the areas where they are installed unfortunately. Beyond that range you will definitely need to add more lighting yourself and this applies to the newest pinball machines as well.
The back box is the very back board that sticks up vertical from behind the machine. The back of it generally faces the wall and the front side displays the score and pinball artwork. Older games from the 90s and prior used to have painted glass in the backbox (then called backglass), but more recent machines use flexible printed art cells installed against a plastic window, which enables light to reflect through called a pinball translite.
Whenever experimenting with pinball mods—especially lighting—it is important not to go overboard with your installations. There is such a thing as too bright in certain sections and too colorful a-playfield that you may end up straining the eyes of users, making the experience less than enjoyable for players. The key is to have even lighting throughout the entire pinball playfield. This means not too bright or dim with shadows in any section. You want to eliminate both of those scenarios to get the best results. A properly lit playfield will increase the fun factor, your score, progress, and skills!!
Pinball mods are generally available through specialist retailers and pinball parts suppliers, but if you are in the market for pinball lights, Pin Stadium Lights is your best resource. Collectors worldwide go to Pin Stadium Lights for the most advanced LED lighting kits and systems, designed to enhance the visibility, add appeal, and improve the overall appearance of a pinball machine’s playfield. What is even better is that their products eliminate that annoying glass glare. This means their kits pay for themselves if you were thinking about replacing your pinball glass too. No need to get new expensive pinball glass either 😉