Al's Garage Band goes on a World Tour

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This game has received 34 approved Pinsider ratings. 16 more approved ratings are needed to get a rating and for it to be eligible for the Pinside Pinball Top 100 ranking.

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Found 18 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 18 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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1 year ago
If you ever see this game in the wild. you MUST play it. Fun theme, great execution, crazy shout-outs, fast game-play. Alvin G and Company outdid themselves with this one.
2 years ago
Al's is dynamic, but behind the times for 1992.
It's an enjoyable game that fits it's theme.

I do like the art work and neon colors.

As an owner... this game has caused me much stress and takes a good bit of maintenance.
3 years ago
A very below average game. The ramps n' shots just don't feel all that well compared to most pins and there's barely any flow to them. The only 2 things I liked about this pin are the flipper buttons that actually bump to the beat of the jet bumpers (they feel like the same kind of bump you would feel on a woofer speaker) and the video mode (you play as the drummer and you hit the flipper buttons as fast as possible to complete). I was a real shocker to see that it got a lot more plays at a mall's arcade in Indianapolis than both Indianapolis 500 and Cirquis Voltaire (i've seen people continuously plunk down more quarters into that game and play it as if they knew the game really well while I was wondering why people were playing as if they were really into it despite the fact that it really wasn't that fun and one of the few people I've knew who plays CV or Indy 500 until later)! Music is really repetitive and the artwork is really cheesy. I usually pass on this game for the other games they had like CV, Indy 500, Gladiators, Deadpool, Space Jam, Silver Slugger, and even Star Wars: Episode I!
5 years ago
This pin is very repetitive and lacks variation. The same call outs and monotonous music make this one a tough play. There isn’t much in the way of flow and it’s just really hard to get into.
5 years ago
While I appreciate that another player stepped up and tried to produce pinball machines in the 1990s, Al's Garage Band misses the mark. "Original themes" are fetishized these days, but this game, if any, screams for a licence. The game could then have been beloved, and maybe a few of the gameplay shortcommings could have been overlooked. The shots don't feel good and the bagatelle blocks almost the entire left side of the playfield. The art package strives for Mad Magazine, but ends up being a knock-off Where's Waldo-inspired mess. I've tried to like the game the few times I've played it, but alas, it's lacking against the Bally/Williams and Gottlieb games of the day.
7 years ago
This is a super neat game. Who cares that it's not deep, it doesn't need to be. It has great color, sound, and is just plain fun.
7 years ago
Great game that isnt seen very often
7 years ago
"Introducing Al's Garage Band!" (Crowd goes wild cheering)

This is what should be called a "light fun" pinball machine.
It does not have extremely deep ruleset, but is VERY entertaining for most non-serious pinball players.
It goes to show that a pinball does not have to be MET or AC/DC to be worth your ball time.
The game brings in the quarters whenever on location, as most have never seen one..."Tour again, Dude".
You are not going to have a hard time understanding what to do on this game.
If players are STILL confused, the game explains the features and ruleset in attract mode (make a note, Stern).
Don't overlook this machine, it has unique history and a tribute to Alvin Gottlieb.

The artwork is a good standout with its bright colors and neon greens.
It can be best described as being "loud" (Hence the "Plug it in, Crank it Up!" flyer logo) and eye catching.
AUTHENTIC backglass with REAL mirroring (all over it).
Playfield back panel is an heavy weight plastic mirror (hey, "mirror blades" before they existed!).
Cabinet image is the "sticker crate" but still matches the theme well.
The cabinet is very DEEP in construction, over 4 inches taller than most later model SS machines, which provides excellent sound reverberation.
Durability of the cabinet painting is another story, as it is not really high quality, and prone to cracking.

Lower production makes it harder to acquire, especially with the factory topper (but the topper can be picked up fairly cheaply as they come up often on Ebay).
Owners don't lose the backglass and protect it carefully, you are not going to find replacements easily, but there are still a few left.
(NOTE: There is a Gottlieb "adult theme suggestive" running gag joke that is on the backglass and was on purpose by the graphic designer, Dan Hughes, and approved. Let's see if you can figure out what it is, hmmmm?)

I think I have seen maybe 20-30 total machines since 1992, including those on locations.
The remaining overstock models were scooped up by employees/friends/acquaintances of Alvin G., large distributors, and pinball brokers.
Production numbers of this machine from the Mr. Pinball 2016 Price Guide are WAY lower than what has been shown in the past. 350 machines produced? Seems unlikely here.
Majority were shipped overseas due to Williams blackmail scheme to distributors, A LOT.
There are still some floating around NIB in a few "time travel" warehouses, which pop up very rarely.
I found one, and bought it immediately (with a extra NOS playfield + parts + boards) for HALF the cost of a new Stern machine!
I posted the photos of my game in the gallery. (Amazing? Not really, you just have to be diligent.)

Music and sound calls are good, just repetitive, but are in STEREO pinheads.
Yes, that is right a STEREO pinball machine in 1992, Stern want to take some tips here?
Callouts are very clear in quality.

"I'm calling the police!" (which was normally turned off by operators)

Rarely have manufacturers done the stereo sound feature, and just "cheap out".
Another example of Stern still being "backwards" and retro perspective in pinball design just like DMDs.
Catchy main themes and drum solo beats, both during main play, ball locks, multiball, and jackpots.
How many people can keep their game going to hear the cow bells?

Decent amount of shot variety, I personally like the city "world tour city loops" on the orbits (fast), "Metal Monster" guitar inclusion with the rollovers, and the center spinner ala Whirlwind or Dr. Dude "Mixmaster" which is random from the start and during certain feature modes. The "drum solo" video mode is kinda stupid (and cannot be cancelled out), but there is an additional feature added with this I included below.

You can fix most of the "sticky" spots, where a ball can get stuck fairly easily on this game, it is not a big deal, and removes any "clunkiness".
For example, balls bouncing out of the "record a song" back panel? Install a large piece of rubberized foam to absorb the impact on the metal panel, problem solved.
An owner needs to take the time and "dial" this game in, because from the factory it needs a burn in test and close scrutiny. For example, in my NIB machine roller posts were missing underside T-nuts and most of the microswitches needed serious adjustment. Those are just starts. Poor QC.
The way the game is coded and the playfield designed, microswitch adjustments are CRITICAL on this game, if not, the game becomes COMPLETELY UNPLAYABLE, especially the VUKs, ball shooter, feature kick outs, and kick backs. (Hence the non-owner comments)
Otherwise, the game comes to a "screeching halt" and is unfun.
Amazing how small adjustments can remarkably change game opinions, new collectors.
The spring on the outhole kicker needs to be replaced with a stronger, higher resistance version to avoid ball trough "jumping" over the wireform that leads to multiple balls being fed into the shooter lane at the worst possible times. The coil is way too overpowered from the factory for a 6 inch ball feed.
People that play the machine are not the same as those that own and know the machine.
It just not that hard to tweak and correct, "new generation pinball enthusiasts that cannot change a fuse". It is a good time to learn, folks, do it.

Some say I am critical of the changes in the hobby and the industry, but if you understand the past you can predict the future of pinball. Most people that have been in the hobby for over 20+ years have figured out what I am trying to say here.

This is not a "Barracuda Speed Queen" with perfect flow, it is a "stop and go" pinball machine which is fine for its design. If you want that go play a Steve Ritchie game or WhiteWater.
Multiball gets pretty frantic and is generally short lived.
Jackpot shots are challenging with the spinning CD Player, but worth BIG POINTS.
Learn to cradle the balls, but shoot quickly, because if you "stall" the game knows you are holding the flipper up, and the jackpot counts down in value, most people do not know this fact.
More games should use this feature.

This is one game where LEDs actually have use to fix (and that is quite rare for me to report) and improve what the factory designers did not do with proper general lighting, which is "terrible" to be nice, it just needs to be updated. An owner can accent much better, without resulting in a "unicorn pinata diarrhea".
Even the GI needs fixed with more lighting required, as the game looks like crap in the dark.
Multiball lighting is much better on all corners of the machine with the flashers, you really do need more colors just brightness in this case. (NOTE: Standard 1 LED #44 bayonets DO NOT work on this game due to the way the lamp matrix voltage is strobed).

Not a highly innovative machine, but the entire package is well put together, and the software is polished, but straightforward, no real hidden secrets. Contrary to common belief there is a wizard mode, which is called "brain damage", but is not overwhelming in terms of gameplay, but hard to achieve if the game is waxed, as if you flail, you drain.

Mechanical design is solid, but it is not BLY/WMS manufacture quality in terms of being "heavy duty" on location type machine. Overall build quality is a little lower than current Sterns, but even in a route environment is survivable. Maintenance of the machine is easy and accessible, but you have to use an independent lock prop bar, not the "cheater bar" in the game, or you will warp the playfield and break things. The locking hasp mechanisms on the playfield is a NECESSITY, along with screw locks on the front during transport, or the playfield can fall off the rails and get busted up badly.

The one standout feature is the "bump buttons", solenoids that send "pulses" through the flipper buttons when the pop bumpers and bass is played. Fun stuff, idea by Alvin Gottlieb himself, they are not "lock out coils" or "why the hell are manufacturers still using these". A lot of pinheads are not aware of this feature.
There is no other pinball machine that has this installed via factory specifications.
If I am mistaken feel free to correct me.

My only concern for new owners would be replacement parts both game specific and electronics.
The game system is not very well known for repair, and has some "soon to be" hard to find board sets.
Once the IPB parts are gone, that is it, be ready for repair, owners.
Board design had some amperage "Achilles heels" points you have be careful with overall, or you can have shorts.

Know what you are buying.

It is a historical low production machine with significant value in the long term (and trending on a continued rise), but hard to find parts, similar to "Mystery Castle", but edges the game out in quality. "Punchy the Clown" might actually beat out this game, I need to reflect a bit, AGC definitely learned from AGBGoaWT.

A good production machine from Alvin G and Co.
Give it a try, if the game is well tuned, you will have a lot of fun.
Best played with the stock speakers turned up around 3/4 max volume, most people then go, "holy #%$@!".
If the game was more readily available for people to play, it would probably be ranked in the low #100+ range.
Most people will never get a chance to play the game, let alone a properly working version now.
7 years ago
Being a touring musician myself, I really wanted to like this game! Alas, pass...

The layout plays horrible, the ball gets stuck all over the place, and there's just very little flow on this game. The artwork leaves MUCH to be desired, the callouts are annoying, and the gimmicks are things that Williams and others had already done, but to a much better degree. Everything about this game is "pass" to me. Sorry Alvin...
8 years ago
My buddy has a near mint version. Seemed like an fun pin for a few quick games here and there.
8 years ago
Considering how good this game is it is a shame there are not more out there. I can only imagine how many are left in good playing condition. Luckily there are two places close I can play it.

Love the layout...gameplay is fun. Very goofy art and music but it is alot of fun. Kinda reminds me of an updates
8 years ago
What a neat game! One of the best loop shots in pinball, spinning CD is great! and just pretty darn fun!
9 years ago
This game is one of the last remnants of the Gottlieb name in pinball.

The Pros:
This game looks and sounds great. The light show is impressive and the art package reminds me of something Big Bang Bar and Earthshaker. The colors on this game are vivid and loud! The layout of the game is solid and the shots further up the PF require speed and accuracy to be made. Shooting the ball through the CDplayer/Mixmaster is a bit tougher than one might originally think it would be. I also like the ball dropping onto the spinning disc from the shooter lane. Randomized from the start! The guitar bagatelle/ upper PF is very simple and plays well. The rules are simple and easy to understand, but the game is lots of fun. Is Al really reaching down between his legs to grab the neck of his guitar?

The Cons:
The left outline kicker and the flippers better be strong, or you're not going to be able to keep the ball on the table to make needed shots. Finding parts is going to be interesting. I don't know what it is, but this game feels light, maybe even flimsy in its construction. This game's depth pales in comparison to what other pinball companies were producing at the time. Whirlwind has a deeper ruleset.

The Takeaway:
There weren't too many of these games made, find one if you can and enjoy it for what it is. Sometimes people forget that pinball is supposed to be fun. AGB has fun in spades. All things considered, this deck is an interesting little piece of pinball history. It also happens to be a really fun game.
9 years ago
Bit repetitive however was fun, if this was your only pin you'd get bored quickly
9 years ago
This is just a fun game. It is a little repetitive and would probably get old if it was your only game but is a nice change of pace for me in my lineup.
10 years ago
I am addicted to Alvin G.´s pinballs and will not believe that this firms history was a quick history.
The sound and gameplay is just fun, the theme and music remembers a little on MonsterBash .. guess who has "borrowed" some ideas ....
The neon colors are great and if you play this game alone, with some time, no other pins switched on ... listen to the great sound ... especially on the multiball jackpot. This is real cool ....
Build around 1000 times, not easy to find in Europe. I importet mine HUO from the US due its pricing is too high in Germany.
Why do I like Alvin G.´s in it all ? If we meet for our monthly pinballmatches nearly all of the guys and girls have MM, MB, AFM, etc, pp ... booooring. In my area I am the onliest one with this hard to find games .... and you can really have fun with this pin !!
12 years ago
Alvin G's highest production game. This has more toys on the playfield than other Alvin G games, but that doesn't really make it the best. The spinning disc at the top is cool and the 'guitar' upper playfield is neat but it's been done a bunch of times by now. The flipper buttons also pulse when the pop bumpers are hit, which kind of surprised me at first. The rules are fairly shallow, though, and I found it somewhat lacking for flow. If you want a great Alvin G game, check out Mystery Castle!
12 years ago
I had the honour of playing this at a show in Holland a few years back and got quite a few plays in. It's a nice fun game with a cool spinning record toy. It's lack of depth is the only let down but it is great fun and plays well.
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