What exactly are pinball mods?
We often get asked by customers: what are pinball mods? Many people have heard that pinball machines can be modified but don’t really understand what changes can be done—much less how to start.
Simply put, a pinball modification involves adding features that did not come standard on the original machine. It can mean installing additional or new lighting, toppers, playfield toys, or any other component that changes a pinball machine’s looks and/or functionality.
Pinball mods are all the rage these days, and it’s not surprising why. From pinball machine lights to playfield upgrades, there are so many options if you want to customize your machine beyond the manufacturer’s original design. You can do something as simple as putting plastic protectors on or install mylar on spots that wear out easily or make everything flashier with new lighting. Need some ideas? Let’s look at the types of modifications that you can try:
Light it up
Why not replace the original incandescent bulbs that came with your machine with pinball LED lighting? This is one of the easiest and most affordable mods you can do that has a lot of impacts. LED is brighter and more vibrant but burns much cooler, so it’s gentler on the machine’s plastic parts. Pin Stadium offers a host of pinball machine lighting kits along with them being very easy-to-use to install without tools or modifications to your pinball machine. There’s no end to the customizations you can do. The great thing about LED mods is that if you decide to sell your machine, the next owner can easily switch back to the original incandescent lighting (if that’s what they prefer).
You can also install under-cabinet lighting for your pinball machine. Simply purchase LED strips that you can wire into triggers so that they flash with specific events. Now that’s pretty cool. Places like Rock Custom Pinball are excellent for this.
Install playfield protectors
This is a practical modification that lets you protect those exposed and vulnerable edges that tend to wear out easily. Protectors can dramatically help maintain your machine’s value while ensuring that it will still be in a great condition many years from now.
You can affix small toys and action figures to the playfield to create a completely custom pinball machine—it’s fun to do and is relatively affordable. You can buy these figures online.
Try shaker motors
Why not add a shaker motor so that your pinball machine reverberates during certain events? Do note that while this is certainly a cool mod, it can cause the playfield glass to shake. The solution? Put some anti-rattle tape to protect the glass.
Give it some powder coating
This is a major pinball mod but one that’s certainly worth the effort, time, and money if you want a completely unique pinball machine that stands out. A well-done powder coating job can make your machine look awesome. It’s not easy (but not super hard either), though—you have to remove the side rails and the coin door for professional results. Robert from Stone Cold Coatings on Pinside offers great work and an affordable price too.
How do pinball mods affect the gaming experience?
From getting new pinball machine lights to making major upgrades to the playfield, there are a lot of pinball mod options you can do to customize your game beyond the original manufacturer design. Different mods will affect the gaming experience differently. Lighting mods in particular can make a dramatic difference by making the playfield more visible and the pinball machine much more vibrant.
Some modifications can also fix any mechanical difficulties a pinball machine might have. Additionally, you can upgrade the rubbers, flippers, and bumpers to make them smoother to operate and make your machine feel brand new.
And then there are mods that protect the pinball machine from wear and tear, so you don’t have to hold back when playing a game. It’s possible to add safety features on your playfield—for example, pinball playfield protectors, washers can be fixed on slingshot corners to protect them from breakage, and special metal protectors(Cliffys) can be added to prevent wear on playfield wood particularly in cellar scoops and holes. Modifications such as pinball playfield protectors can be quite complicated, so it’s a good idea to seek the assistance of skilled pinball technicians if you want to attempt something this difficult.