There are lots of different terms you will quickly learn when you start playing pinball more often. Some of them will already be familiar to you from when you played pinball as a youth. This includes bumpers.

Not all bumpers are the same, however. More on that below, but first: what are bumpers?

Bumpers exist in the main playfield of almost all pinball machines. They are usually shaped a bit like a mushroom and interact with the ball when the ball hits them.

There are two main types of bumper:

• Active bumper – active bumpers apply a force to the ball to kick it away when the ball strikes them. This is the most common type of bumper you will find on pinball machines.

• Passive bumpers – passive bumpers don't do anything except allow the ball to ricochet off them.

While bumpers are an essential part of modern pinball machines, they have not always existed. In fact, they were first invented in 1936, bringing with them the first automatic scoring pinball machines.

As a result, most bumpers on pinball machines score points. That said, there are still some, such as spinning bumpers, whose only job is to disrupt the trajectory of the ball.

Active Bumpers Active bumpers are known by a range of different names. This includes:

• Pop bumper

• Thumper bumper

• Jet bumper

• Percussion bumper

• Power bumper

These names were typically used by pinball manufacturers through the years when describing their machines. They all come under the umbrella heading of active bumper, however.

In addition to different names, there are specific types of active bumper too. This includes:

• Disappearing bumpers – a bumper which can disappear during the game by being lowered until the top of the bumper is flush with the rest of the playfield.

• Jumper bumper – another specific type of bumper where the whole bumper moves up whenever the ball strikes it.

• Spinning bumpers – this type of active bumper doesn’t normally score points. It does move continuously, though, sending the ball in unpredictable directions when hit.

Passive Bumpers

As passive bumpers don’t do much, there is not much to differentiate them except by their design. Two of the most common designs are the mushroom bumper and the tower bumper. Passive bumpers are also known as dead bumpers.

Now you know more about one of the most important parts of a pinball machine, you should consider owning your own. We have a fantastic range of modern pinball machines to choose from, all featuring fantastic games. Check out the selection today.