Cabinet slapping question.

I host and run a league and I asked players to remove rings as there has been a good bit of cabinet slapping going on. I understand the technique is to move the ball off the rail but how forcefully do you need to do this for it to be effective?

I think it depends on the game and the setup. Some games you barely have to nudge and some you have to slap pretty hard. If you don’t want that sort of thing to happen to your games you can always set the tilt tighter. Probably won’t stop people from trying at least once though :slight_smile:

I think slapping has to be pretty hard usually, to get a ball off a rail at least, as the further up the game the ball is, the more movement of the game it takes to nudge a ball sideways. I used to slap a lot more but I’ve found lately I’ve been trying to slap a little less and be better at picking the right move for the situation, but it depends a lot on the tilt setups and what sort surface the games are too. I have concrete floors so all my machines have rubber feet or they slide all over the place. In these cases sometimes slapping can be more effectice. If the floor has some give a more slide-y type save may work better. If you want to eliminate the slapping, tighter tilts might be your only course of action, though slapping tends to be a bit more effective with a tight tilt, IME at least, so that could even work against you.

It looks more badass and chill when you do this maneuver on the lockdown bar as opposed to reaching up to the middle of the cabinet.

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Nudging however you want = good, scratching up a game - bad news. Good call.

The way pinball cabinets are designed, you’ll input more force to the playfield and ball with less effort by interacting with the lockbar or the front of the cabinet.

Pinball playfields “float” inside the cabinet. They have some amount of left right play inside the game. Directing your force to the hangars in the front is most successful (and partly why bangbacks work).

You might get reasonable results by hitting the pivot bolt half way up the cab, but that is a long way and a likely painful experience.


I got tired of seeing my Stern playfields visibly flop every time a ball plunges into the shooter lane. So I did something about it. On the older games, there were none of the cheap playfield stabilizers they put on new games. On the newer games, the stabilizers often weren’t positioned properly. You can see one in the pic below on the right side of the cab with two red hex head screws holding it in place.

I found the perfect part in the plumbing department at Lowe’s of all places.

They mount using the same screws as the cheap factory ones and hold the playfield rock solid (get the hard plastic ones, not soft). I don’t do any kind of slap saves, but I imagine they would be a lot different with a rigid playfield.

I’m a cabinet slapper. I can make saves on the right side by slapping the cabinet on the right about 1 foot up from the lock down bar. Works great! Funny thing is, I am totally left handed but I rarely slap the cab with my left hand. My theory is that since left is my dominant hand, my brain is not willing to let me take my left hand off the game.

Hosted our league last night and tightened some tilts, pretty tight already, and a lot of the slapping was minimized.

I certainly don’t want to stop the game from being “played” but as a director of the league that plays at private residences I think it is important to respect the work and time host put into their collections. I did express this to lesgue members prior to the start of play and everyone seemed to understand.

Thanks for the input.


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I have only just begun to incorporate cabinet slapping into my nudging repertoire, but now I am worried about etiquette. I just assumed that pinball cabinets were pretty resilient to slaps (even hard ones), and that I was more likely to injure myself than the machine when trying those moves. I do not wear rings, so scratching the paint is unlikely.

I certainly want to respect other people’s property, but I also find slapping cabinets to be useful in my game. So, pinball community, do you think I should I abandon this kind of nudging out of respect to owners?

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No. Whether you’re playing in league or just playing for fun at someone’s home for the first time, you have to size up the host. Is he/ she a hard core player, or more of a collector? How long have you known them/ how long have they been in league? If you have no clue, try not to slap or shove the games around. If it’s a long time league member who has seen plenty of games getting shoved, take what the games will give.

I helped a new repair customer unbox a MET premium this week. His first NIB game. I had to catch myself a couple of times. You could hear the front legs move slightly on the garage floor concrete. Luckily the new owner and the other guy there were total novice players. So when they saw me play, they could tell that I was a better than average player and wanted to watch what I was doing. No comment at all on the two or so shoves.

No doubt it’s hard to hold back. It’s very helpful if your skills are good enough to overlook any moves that might be frowned on otherwise. If you suck and you’re shoving or slapping, you’re probably going to hear about it. Dazzle them with flipper skills and you can pretty much get away with anything short of bang backs or death saves.

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my reason for asking people to remove rings was due to indentations left in cabinets and scratched up lockdown bars. While I general allow a lot of play on my games I also feel a responsibility to the 3 other host that may not want their games to be played in such a way.

I did not tell people that they could not slap cabinets but wanted them to consider the way they were playing other’s games. The biggest issue we have had is with people getting rough with games to clear a stuck ball. We do have some games in collections that simply need more babying because of the age and condition of the games. This of course is remedied by just asking for a key instead of trying to aggressively shake a machine.

My newest game is a NIB/HUO Stern Star Trek Premium… that now has a ring-shaped gouge near the left flipper button, after about 1.5 years of home use.

My HUO Stern WPT and Spidey show left-flipper wear, but they have metal armor that protects the artwork.

My HUO TSPP shows no left-flipper wear.

My NIB/HUO LOTR has a big gouge near the left flipper.

My NIB/HUO Shadow, CV, RFM, and SWE1 have no left-flipper wear.

My non HUO Whitewater, Twilight Zone, and Road Show have no left-flipper wear.

My non HUO AFM and Safecracker have major left-flipper wear.

I have lots of other games, but I can’t speak as well to their history.

I think the bottom line is that games with flipper button armor are safe from rings, but other games are indeterminate as to their wear… early-to-mid-90’s and late 90’s WMS games seem pretty good, but anything after that is subject to bad cabinet wear from rings.


I should note that my wife and I both have rings on our left ring fingers, but no other rings. Guests to our home may have other rings, but are probably infrequent enough visitors not to make a significant difference in wear on our games.

Also tilt bob on left side of cabinet ?

This is going too far IMHO. The lockdown bar is the most basic element with which you interact with the game (aside from the flippers, which you can barely use without contacting the lockdown bar).

If a friend asked me to take my ring off while playing their machines, I’d probably just play one game out of courtesy, but I doubt I’d be interested in more than that. Why bother playing games that they’re nervous about you damaging?

Am I wrong about this?

(I understand that having pristine games is very important to some people…but if that’s your thing, then you probably don’t want anyone else touching them).

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Do you have any games you’ve spent 100+ Hours restoring?

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Can’t say if you’re right or wrong, but I absolutely understand where you’re coming from. I actually prefer to play on location for league for a lot of reasons. Neutral ground, more space and games available for practice beforehand, among other reasons.

Playing at someone’s home for the first time is a crap shoot. Often you aren’t able to test play all the games. Home games are typically pimped to at least some degree. Blinding LEDs and urethane/ silicone rubbers are not uncommon. Space is almost alway tight. Playing any game for the first time in a game that counts always sucks. Playing a pimped out game with bouncy rubbers and a bad LED job for the first time in a game that counts is the worst.

For me, I don’t think I’d mind if a host briefly and politely asked people to remove rings. Something like: ‘Please remove any rings you may be wearing so my games don’t get any more abused than they already are, thanks’ would probably be alright. It sounds like Taylor was a little more wordy than that, which would definitely turn me off.

I’m definitely thankful that so many volunteer their homes and games for league. But you folks should know that some of us would prefer to play at the bar or pizza parlor rather than at your house. If you give us a reason to not come back, we won’t. It doesn’t take much for me.

When you invite league into your home, you should expect your games to be played more aggressively than you play them. You shouldn’t (can’t) expect others to tone down their games. In pinball, you take what the game will give. Not what the house will allow.


Interesting responses.

Having new hosts this season with very nice examples of games I think there is a part of me that is trying to preserve the host/league relationship as much as I am the player/league relationship.

Id be much happier to play on location but currently we don’t have one that could host a league.

Getting stingy about protecting player condition games is one thing, but with home use collector quality ones it shouldn’t be hard for guests to understand that precautions need to be made to respect the host’s machines (mainly, take the rings off). A lot of time and money goes into keeping machines nice, and if a host is into that sort of thing, then guests should respect that.

I don’t see an issue with slapping the upper middle part of the machine when the player has taken some precautions (removing accessories that might hurt the cabinet). It’s a part of the game to me and a skill worth knowing, but I have gotten into the habit of mainly using the lockdown bar area to replicate the same effect. Depending on how the leveling is on a machine I may still have to smack the side of the cabinet to get the best effect.