Leveling - from playfield or back of glass?

Got into a lively discussion with some other operators about how to properly level a game.

I’ve always leveled from the playfield. Their opinion was to level from the back of the cabinet where the glass meets the cabinet in the back. Their justification was this way the level is exactly perpendicular to the cabinet sides, and if you level from the playfield you won’t be exact.

Personally, I think being 6 inches higher and in the back of the game loses any benefit of being exactly perpendicular. And estimating it on the playfield isn’t that hard and even if you are slightly off, it will maybe effect the leveling by half a degree.

What does everyone else think? I want some good juicy stuff for my rebuttal this Thursday : )

I would not bother arguing with anyone who said this to me with a straight face. :expressionless:


I have always leveled from the pf. I care not if the cabinet is level - I care about the surface on which the ball rolls.


One playfield level check at the flippers, a second as high on the playfield that the game allows. First is to check the majority of the bias, second is to make sure the back legs aren’t throwing something into the mix. Especially works wonders on older machines where you can level far back on the field.


How the game plays trumps the level any day of the week. Use the level to get it close, then fine tune until the game plays “right”. I will set games off level if it fixes SDTM from made shots, or prevents ball hangups. But in general, I trust the opinion of experienced players. First slide save is going to throw it off anyway.


And obviously the only true tool is the 2-way level TM. :slight_smile:


I prefer to level from the playfield. However, leveling from the glass when in a hurry or when necessary is usually pretty accurate. Measure lower glass with level butted up against the lockdown bar. Measure upper glass with level butted up against the rear glass channel.


This is something I struggle with personally as leveling on the PF makes the most sense, but only if you can find a straight line.

Leveling on the Glass you have a built in straight line in the lockdown bar and backbox.

So when I can find a straight line, I level on the PF when I can’t I level on the glass and then play test.

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I thought there was an app that would let you level on the glass after you calibrated it on the playfield. Sounds like a good idea in theory.

I think leveling the playfield makes the most sense. If one or more of the playfield hangers aren’t straight then measuring the glass or cabinet wouldn’t be accurate. Games that have built in levels have them on the playfield. But final adjustments have to be made based on the way it plays.

Personally I’ll never trust an app from a phone, a phone isn’t a level, I either want a digital level built specifically to level things or good ole fashioned psychics in the form of a bubble level.


Yea I haven’t had any success with a phone level app but, the digital level I had was a piece of junk too. I ended up using the back up bubble level instead of the digital portion.

I bought one of these:

Works pretty well, is quite small so you can get it anywhere on the PF and does both bullseye and regular level, so I can get the pitch as well from the same screen.

I even went as far as to try and get a laser level so I could project a straight line onto the PF but the unit I bought didn’t work as expected and I’m waiting for a more expensive unit to go on sale before I try again :slight_smile:


NICE and cheap too! Does it stay put on a cleaned and waxed pf? This is what I have. It’s inaccurate and as an added bonus slides all over the playfield!

This is easy… the ball doesn’t have any reference to the cabinet… the PF can sit uneven, brackets can be bent, etc. The cabinet will give you a nice side to side reference… but so what. Might as well measure the table next to the game and call that level so the playfield must be too.

Finding a solid perpendicular reference on the playfield is crazy simple because you have those perfectly balanced flippers and slingshots on the usual italian bottom. Ok, with games without that… it would be harder, but it’s still easy to eyeball.

Let’s do the math… Even if you put your 8" level a full quarter inch off straight… which is very easy to see by eye… at a 7deg slope that means you introduced 0.03125" delta in your vertical measurement or 0.2deg delta as your level would measure vs being perpenticular. We all know we barely get within 0.1 degree of accuracy in the first place. So… worst case you are twice your margin of error? I’ll take it.

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I level between as low as I can near the flippers and then roll a ball up the playfield to check the rear of the game for level.

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There is an iPhone app called PinGuy (it’s free):

I find it quite useful. You can use it on the playfield, and you can also teach it to learn the incline of the glass. It’s fairly precise, to around 0.1-0.2 degrees, I’d say.

One useful feature is that it talks to you. So, you can put the phone on the playfield and the app tells you “left 1.5 degrees too high” or “front 0.4 degrees too low”. So, I can be on my knees adjusting the leg levellers until I hear it tell me that everything is level.


Yes, this… I’ll eyeball level it, then will repeatedly roll a ball up to see how it breaks, both in the lower and upper areas of the playfield… adjust and re-roll. Can usually get it perfectly level after a minute or two, assuming the inserts are good.


I use and recommend the Craftsman level linked below. I’ve checked mine against two others just like it and all three measured exactly the same. I always level on the playfield. First between the flippers, then as high on the playfield as possible. Between the flippers, you can usually rest the level on the two inlane guide.

I know some suggest to only use straight lines on the playfield, but I don’t have any trouble eyeballing it. Any time I adjust a leveler, I give the game a good shove to get all four legs seated properly, then remeasure. I basically take two measurements each time. Measure once, reposition level, measure again. The measurement will often change by .1 or .2 degrees, but that’s an imperceptible difference.

Older playfields can be all over the place. My Taxi playfield was like a roller coaster. In those cases, you get it as close as you can using the level, then make adjustments as needed based on how the game plays. The newer the game, the less likely your playfield is warped.

Whatever the game, always start with both front levelers screwed all the way up. At least one of the front levelers should still be screwed all the way up when you’re done. This gives the game more stability. When I see games with all four levelers extended, that suggests to me that whomever leveled it last doesn’t know how to do it properly. Don’t be that guy. d;^)

As mentioned above, some games need to be slightly not level. AC/DC SDTM drain out of the pops is one case where sometimes you need a little lean. Up to about .3 degrees lean, no one is going to notice. Don’t tell them and they won’t blame their bad balls on your leaning game. Every floor is different just like every game is different. Perfectly level may work in the garage, but not in the house.

Always measure pitch between the flippers. On many games, the higher up you go on the playfield, the steeper the pitch gets. Factory installed bubble levels (never trust them) are always installed at about the same level as the flippers. That’s where you want to measure.


Jorian will notice … And he will absolutely blame the TD for this :wink: