Is It the Detector or is it You?

If you have to ask if it’s too early to drink wine, we can’t be friends…..

I’m always amused at those YouTube videos with a tekkie opening the box of their brand new detector. Not putting it together or using it mind you…just a grand opening of the carton. Sort of a “voila…. lookie what I got”. Don’t get wrong I am thrilled too when I get a new detector but I want to keep that emotional, poignant and deeply moving unboxing moment to myself.  Now a TV, refrigerator or freezer, hell yeah bring it on!!

Okay, all the above aside isn’t it true that every new detector you ever purchased was “always better” than the last? It found more, had great depth  and killed it at that site you assumed was hunted out.  Okay, okay, so that’s what you told your wife.  Well here’s my take as if you give a rat’s ass…..


Like most other electronic/computerized products you buy today there’s usually a learning curve involved in order to use it and enjoy it. There are new features, controls, programs, and techniques required to get comfortable with it and a metal detector is no different. You have to make friends with it and learn its nuances and its quirks. It will only offer the end result you seek if you set it up to work at peak efficiency and this takes time and patience.

Next I’m willing to bet that after you did the Cecile B. Demille thing with opening the box you took your new detector to that hammered site to see if it would turn up any new goodies. Well unbeknownst to you, while there you became so engrossed in learning your new machine that you were oblivious to just how slow you were going.  You weren’t interested in speed and as a result you were inadvertently giving that old site new life. Giving it time to show you what it’s been hiding.

I also have a hunch that while you were at that hunted out site you dug every signal simply because you wanted to see if that readout on the screen was accurate and as a result you came home with a few decent finds.

So what am I saying? Well we all know “you have to walk over it to find it” and because you were enthralled with your new detector you were not interested in covering a lot of ground. As a result you were rewarded with a keeper or two…. New machine or not, speed is a bad recipe for the detectorist, especially at a site that’s been hunted numerous times.

Last but not least is the power of positive thinking. I mean come on, you spent a ton of money on that detector and you know it just has to be better than your old one and that automatically adds to your success (IMO).  Of course on the flip side taking that new detector out for a test run right after you and your wife had a battle royal over how much it cost will guarantee that it sucks. Always remember

“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”….

I’ve field tested, reviewed and used a lot of detectors over the years, and the best finds usually came during the learning period….

Finally if the new finds keep on coming after the first week or so you’ve got a real gem of a detector. If by chance they slow down think about those first few attempts at learning it, how you went about it and what you found. Just maybe a lot of that success was your thought process and technique and not so much the detector.

 Well that’s sure to piss off a few manufacturers…..

So next time you venture out just pretend your detector is a brand spanking new, knock your socks off, killer of a machine. Look at the controls and various settings as though you’ve never seen them before, experiment with them and go ever so slow. Cover a very small area of that hammered site and report back to me. Willing to bet you come home with a keeper or two. If by chance you don’t, screw it….get rid of that detector, buy another and tell somebody else….

Here’s an old tip for your old detector from an old fart:

Go back to that favorite site of yours and shorten your stem one notch, or until the coil is literally at your feet. It will absolutely force you to slow down.  Ground balance, use all metal, set your depth/sensitivity as high as possible without erratic chatter.

Next make sure you have a slight threshold hum (without that you will never hear those deeper targets).  Go slow, listen for the whispers and if those whispers don’t offer a steady “readout” take your threshold “just barely” into the quiet zone, turn your sensitivity/depth up (even if there’s chatter) and see if you can coax a decent numerical readout. If that doesn’t work dig that whisper….there’s a good chance it’s a keeper.


If you have been enjoying the Q&A posts stay tuned….Allyson Cohen, a.k.a. the Detecting Diva is up next!





Filed under Metal Detecting

19 responses to “Is It the Detector or is it You?

  1. wintersen

    A most enjoyable read liberally sprinkled with good advice and a touch of humour (humor). Good to read and ‘drink in’ some vintage Stout! This was a welcome read first thing in the morning.

    Happy Easter …

    • Thanks John Winter….appreciate that, and yes I am indeed vintage. We both are, are we not?

      Happy Easter to you and Lynda as well. Will touch base with you over the weekend.

  2. Paul Southerland

    Nice post Dick. Lots of great advice for folks to consider. I’ve logged everything in since I started detecting again 9 years ago. Started out with the MXT then a couple years later went to the MXT Pro. I came to the conclusion last year that someting was wrong with my MXT Pro. Going over my data I noticed a drop off with the recoveries getting fewer, especially on certain items, and even with me detecting more these days. After a lot of testing and trying out both MXT’s discovered the problem. IT WAS ME. I had not only started swinging faster but had developed a habit of relying on the MXT Pro’s Tone ID too much, waiting to HEAR the high tone of something good. I went back to how I began and started slowing down, used no discrimination, dug everything. I really started listening to what the detector was telling me instead of waiting for that sweet high tone. The finds changed dramatically.

    • Paul, we all fall into this trap. I did it when the first visual ID’s came out in the early 80’s. If the needle didn’t say coin I ignored it and like you my finds dropped dramatically. Then while hunting an old picnic grove I dug one of those lower readouts and discovered it was an Indian head penny. I decided then and there that I would never ignore those marginal signals again….until now. I can’t physically detect like I used to so I’m being a little more selective in what I bend down for, LOL. You would laugh if you saw the process.

      Thanks Paul for taking the time to comment….appreciate it.

  3. BigTony

    Great post Dick, positive thinking, changing settings and go slow equals a new detector……I love it…..I did just that last year and yes, I came home with plenty of keepers at my favorite hunted out site.

  4. BigTony

    Oh and Happy Easter to you and the family.

  5. William

    Been a while since I have been here and what a great post…. We do tend to get lazy don’t we?

    • Well glad you are back William….appreciate it.

      For the record I’ve not only gotten lazy I’ve gotten older….might be a connection there somewhere, or at least I’d like to think so.

  6. You write that, “…when I get a new detector but I want to keep that emotional, poignant and deeply moving unboxing moment to myself.” That’s exactly how I feel when I get my hands on a bottle of Talisker. Seriously, it’s all very sound, valuable advice for everyone, not just the newbies in the pastime. But as the old adage has it…You take take a horse to water…etcetera etcetera!

  7. Very good post, old fart or not, Dick! My favorite was “…speed is a bad recipe for the detectorist, especially at a site that’s been hunted numerous times.” True, true and true again!

    Good times!

  8. Years ago when I first started this hobby back in the 80’s I would hunt with an elderly gentleman who taught me most of what I know – and it always seemed that he was always the “lucky” one picking up the good “finds” One day while eating our lunch while out on a hunt I asked why he always seemed so lucky in finding stuff – he told me “its my health that help me” – not fully understanding what he meant he explained that he had emphysema and could not move very fast and that slowness allowed him to find those that I missed by going too fast – I miss my hunting buddy as he passed in the mid 90’s but I always remember the lessons he taught me especially the moving slow one – gave up the hobby in early 2000’s looking to purchase a new detector and restart it soon – hope I can remember all the lessons I learned )))) Happy Hunting everyone

    • Frank, thanks for sharing that story. A lesson learned the hard way or sad way perhaps…. I’m sorry to hear of your friends passing but happy to hear that you are jumping back in the hobby. Keep us posted on your adventures and hope you will share whatever ideas or tips you can. Good luck…


    Thanks every one, your years of experance opened my mind on how to metal detect the best way. What took you years to learn you shared in a few min. I thank you all.

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