More on Tesoro from Joe Patrick…

Joe Patrick

This morning I received an email from Joe Patrick, a long time friend and detectorist… I’m sharing it word for word. Thanks Joe…..

Hi Dick,

I read your Tesoro article and am quite saddened to hear that it may be the end of the line for Tesoro. I guess it was inevitable as they have not had any revolutionary products for some time now. And I personally think that their marketing, after Jack’s passing, was/is horrible. As you know, good marketing can sell snow cones to an Eskimo. Tesoro lacked marketing excitement and they should have promoted die-hard users such as Garrett has so successfully done with their current cast of dedicated users and YouTube video “characters”. Say what you will, but it works.

About 6 years ago, I wrote the attached article and sent it to Tesoro. They never responded to it! Nor have I since seen it in print. Perhaps now would be a good time to let others read it, although probably much too late. Do with it as you please.

Joe Patrick


Why Tesoro? I’ll tell you …

By Joe Patrick

If you detect long enough and own and use enough different metal detectors you begin to realize just what works and what doesn’t; What features are truly needed and advantageous and which ones are not. You begin to separate “puffy” advertising and misguided Internet forum hype, and their sometime misleading and erroneous information, from the actual truth and reality of field-proven success.

In over thirty years of metal detecting, I have owned, tested and/or used ‘most every metal detector made for land hunting. Each had it pros and cons. Some I liked and some I didn’t. A few were exceptional!

Some were very deep-detecting, but heavy and/or loved iron. Others were lightweight, but cheaply made. A few were complicated and required long learning curves and much field time to master. Most were expensive to have repaired when broken.

There is no perfect metal detector or perfect metal detector company, but there is one company who for the past 30+ years has consistently designed and built “rock-solid”, value-added metal detectors for the “down and dirty” “in-the-trenches detectorist” – those of us who value outstanding performance and appreciate operating simplicity, reasonable cost, high quality and steadfast service after the sale. That company is Tesoro Electronics.

The Beginning

As a young teenager, my first metal detector was a home-built B.F.O. made from construction plans in a 1960’s Popular Electronics magazine article. Years later, about 1980, I built a Heathkit GD-1190 Ground Tracker metal detector which was my “real” introduction into metal detecting – after having found my brother’s lost high-school ring in our parents home’s front yard.

Within a few short years of that, I was so captivated and immersed in metal detecting that I became a dealer selling detectors manufactured by the then “new” company … Tesoro.

From the beginning, Tesoro’s detectors just fascinated me and seemed like the “perfect fit” for my budget, type and style of detecting – which was serious, “lean and mean”, no-nonsense, “full tilt” detecting. It was nothing for me to be out detecting five to seven days a week searching every place I could think of and Tesoro metal detectors were right there with me and a large part of my early metal detecting/treasure hunting success.

My first Tesoro was a basic “big box” original-model Amigo that I had won at a local treasure hunt. About 1985 or so, I moved up to a notch-enabled Golden Sabre and then eventually to a do-it-all Toltec 100. Both were really great detectors and I loved that analog-metered Toltec! Still do!

In later years, I was fortunate to field test, own and use many Tesoro metal detectors of the 1980’s and 1990’s including most of the older metal-boxed, plastic-boxed and earliest uMAX models. None were a disappointment! In fact, I loved them all! “Typical Tesoro” I wrote in many of my magazine field test reports. Meaning high performance, simplistic operation and quality-built craftsmanship.

They were “typical” Tesoros all right! Built well, with superior in-the-ground performance and excellent discrimination. They precisely pinpointed targets “on the money” and had great modulated audio. All in all, they were a pleasure to use and put many coin, relic and jewelry finds into my coin apron and collection. They loved gold too!

In recent years, I have moved on to using other brands and models of detectors, but Tesoro’s have always been on my mind and in my heart. It’s hard to forget all of the great finds from days afield with detecting friends and the various Tesoro models that I had used. After all, it is the great memories of detecting various sites with close friends and the finds made that are the real treasures of metal detecting.

The most recent Tesoro model that I’ve had a chance to use is the Cortes and it is currently one of my all-time favorite Tesoros. There’s a lot of detector and performance in that small 3-pound package! I strongly feel the Cortes has not received anywhere near the attention and recognition that it truly deserves. I would encourage all detectorists to take a good unbiased look at its versatility and compact, comfortable operating potential – especially so if they have low to moderately mineralized ground to detect.

For almost ten years during the 1990’s, I operated a full-time, storefront business selling metal detectors. I sold a “ton” of Tesoros! It was easy, as they were a company and a product that I truly believed in. I never had any reservation about recommending them to my friends and customers. I had total confidence in their products.

I regret to say that during the past 10 or so years, I have moved away from Tesoro detectors using another currently popular brand, which I have done very well with and like very much. But as I grow older each year, I have begun to think more about what do I really need and want in a metal detector. It seems that I may be coming “full circle” and back to the very things that have kept me attracted to Tesoro metal detectors for so long.

First, is comfort. I need something very lightweight and non-tiring to use. Some of the newest high-performance detectors are quite heavy and quickly take a toll on just how many hours I can comfortably swing them. There is a huge difference between swinging a four to five plus pound detector versus the ultra-lightweight two to three-pound Tesoro uMAX designs.

Second, is performance. Although I placed this next after comfort, I feel it is equally important. What’s the point of swinging a detector all day if it can’t find me something worthwhile? I can assure you that all Tesoro metal detectors have excellent performance! From their most basic beginners models to their top end units. Tesoro metal detectors do not disappoint! Just ask anyone who has used one for a while.

Sure, there are other detectors that may be a bit deeper or have more features, but it doesn’t make one bit of difference to the many thousands of loyal Tesoro users worldwide with their piles of finds they’ve made over the decades – proof that Tesoros work well! Tesoro detectors have found countless numbers of coins, relics, jewelry, rings, caches, military artifacts, gold nuggets and more.

Third, is value. You will be hard pressed to find a metal detector that offers more value than a Tesoro. Their broad range of detectors and accessories are reasonably priced, quality built and backed by the best warranty in the business … lifetime, to the original owner. No more expensive repair bills! Ever!

Fourth and last is the “Fun Factor”. I can’t explain it, but Tesoro metal detectors are just plain fun to use! There is just something about their simplicity and “real” knobs and switches that makes metal detecting fun and exciting. You feel connected and in control! As if by magic, the search and thrill of discovery seems enhanced somehow. That’s not just my opinion, ask any devoted Tesoro owner and they will tell you likewise. Using a Tesoro detector puts a smile on your face!

This whole article concept began recently with the introduction of Tesoro’s new Outlaw metal detector. For years now I, and others, have been waiting and wondering what will be Tesoro’s next great metal detector. We all have our wants and wishes. Mine was for a Cortes-like detector with a bigger display, fully adjustable ground balance in both discrimination and all metal modes, great multi-tone ID and a trigger switch like on the Tejon – and with switch-selectable normal or V.C.O. pinpointing, as I much prefer normal non-motion modulated pinpointing audio.

When I first saw the Outlaw introduced, I was very disappointed. In reading some of the various detecting forum posts, so were many other “diehard” Tesoro fans. We felt let down and overlooked. Another “repackaged Tesoro”, we thought. Nothing new here.

It wasn’t until months later, when I took a hard, second look and really began an unbiased evaluation that I realized the Outlaw was just what I was looking for in a non-metered metal detector.

It is so similar to the Bandido, which is another all-time favorite and well-loved Tesoro. It has manual ground balancing capability in BOTH all metal and discrimination modes and it does not have V.C.O. pinpointing, of which I am not a big fan. Couple that with its small, lightweight uMAX design and it is perfect for my style of detecting.

The real clincher though is the included three search coils with lower stems – a 5.75”, 8” and 12”x10”. These make the Outlaw extremely versatile and provide the ability to quickly adapt and easily fine-tune the detector to nearly any site or detecting situation that I might encounter.

The large, red, centered, dual-function pinpoint/retune switch is also nicely placed for quick, effortless pinpointing or retuning when needed.

I also like and prefer Tesoro’s smooth, modulated non-motion pinpointing audio sound. It’s always been a favorite of mine and the Outlaw has it!

After several years of not using a Tesoro, it looks like the Outlaw is going to be my next Tesoro.

So after more than thirty years of “hanging out” with the Tesoro Company and their metal detectors, I am still a huge fan and supporter!

Here’s to the next thirty years Tesoro and if I am still around then … I am certain that I will still be a “diehard” Tesoro enthusiast and user!


Be sure to check out Joe’s other contributions to Stout Standards..

 “A Q&A with Joe Patrick”

“A Guest Post by Joe Patrick”



Filed under Metal Detecting

20 responses to “More on Tesoro from Joe Patrick…

  1. Randy Bradford

    What a fantastic evaluation…

  2. Yep, Joe’s got it right about marketing. For instance, they had a great product in the Golden Sabre an 80s era machine, but it’s ‘message’ never really got out there. It sliced through iron-infested habitation sites such as Roman like a hot knife through butter, plucking small bronze and silver coins with ease. It worked well on beaches too and I made many good finds on many European beaches.

    The problem, looking back, was that perhaps it should have been ‘pushed’ harder. Let’s hope Tesoro gets back on track.

  3. I have never owed a Tesoro, strangely enough, and truth be told I almost bought one earlier in the year, but for some reason, I missed the opportunity. I have many friends using Tesoro machines, and to a person they have nothing but high regard for this American Made machine and the company manufacturing it. Oddly enough…or perhaps not oddly at all…many American companies, and not just metal detector companies, that were started with vision and passion by it’s founder, fail miserably when the offspring take over. Vision and passion are like fuel and oil in an engine…take them away and the motor will become silent and unworkable in a very short time. Almost 30% of American companies fail at the hand of the founder’s children. We have a metal detector-related business here in Central Florida (which I will not mention outright) that is showing similar signs of heading for the rocks since it’s founder passed away and the siblings are in the wheelhouse. I hope Tesoro will be purchased by one of the more successful metal detector companies, and the skilled workforce making these jewels be re-hired and put back to work again. I hate unhappy endings…

    • Jim, from all I’m hearing that’s not the case here though I could be wrong. James and Vince took over Tesoro 2004.

      • Well, in that case, then it probably does not fall into that category…they have run the company for almost 15-years in this poor economy, they must have been doing something right…at least for as long as they could. I do hope this sad situation has some sort of remedy in any case. Joe Patrick certainly knows whereof he speaks! Good post, Dick!

      • You can thank Joe Patrick Jim…it’s always good when he shares his experiences.

  4. Thank you, Joe Patrick, for a great post!

    • Joe Patrick

      Thank you! Though I currently have and have had many favorite metal detectors over the years Tesoros have always been one of my favorites for the reasons stated in my post. I still plan to buy another Tesoro soon but haven’t quite made up my mind which one it will be. I am leaning toward either the Cortes, Bandido II uMax or Outlaw. I also really like the Tejon a lot but for coin hunting in the parks and such places I found its high 17kHz frequency to be just too sensitive to things like “can slaw”. For relics, it’s a killer! I would encourage all detectorists to consider owning a Tesoro especially if you have never previously owned one. You just might be quite surprised with their performance and how well you will like it. The uMax units are a joy to swing. Let’s all hope that we have not seen the last of Tesoro and their great products!

      • Joe Patrick

        Well folks, I just purchased a very nice used Tesoro Bandido II uMax and couldn’t be happier! I also purchased a new Precision 7″ search coil to go with it. I will be looking to buy some additional Tesoro’s in the coming months.

      • You know Joe you might be starting a rush to buy these machines….

  5. Joe Patrick

    Dick, I hope so! Tesoros are great working metal detectors. I have owned and used most of their models over the years and have liked them all. Right now, I have the “bug” to start looking for and start buying the early model Tesoros. The ones in the metal control boxes. But I also like the uMax and HOT Delta designs. I truly hope that Tesoro does not go away. They hold a very unique place in the hobby and market place and have many loyal followers some of which have been tempted away by “new-tech” products. However, I think it very safe to say that those who truly know and have used Tesoro metal detectors well know their proven track record. I am one of those persons!

  6. Kenneth Weldon

    Joe I wish I had met you! Had my wife read your posts above I know she would have asked me if I was posting using your name. I have never read anything on anyone that so paralleled me in attitude, history, and experience with Tesoro. I naturally agree with you 100%.

    I had regular correspondence with Jack Gifford over the years from Tesoro’s onset to the point he ceased to maintain control.
    I highly respected him as a gifted engineer but mostly his attitude about singling out what was really most important to achieving value in a production unit. He made no bones about the fact he could design a dozen units with each set up for specific conditions but recognized the common man wouldn’t understand or buy that way because it was too expensive an approach. No! He wanted to narrow down the designs to three environments with a fair amount of overlap so anyone in the USA could feel they had a unit designed for their conditions but would work reasonably well in the others. So he purposely stayed away from the hype and questionable bells and whistles, believing that was borderline deceitful and not representative of his standards. He considered the Toltec 100 his best work and refined it even more in the digital Cortes as an all around machine.

    Like you having started by building my own BFOs in the 60’s I knew the VLFs were the future even though the BFO had its place. Rather than jump into the fray I started querying everyone I could on one key point that became my standard for evaluating a detector, given most VLFs in the late 60’s early 70’s could be set up to achieve about the same depth. But which brand broke the least over time. I was already selling 7 different brands with most sales being either Garrett or Whites. That was also the order of good and worst reliability, albeit not always the best performers. But then Tesoro came along and Jack took a chance on me and my partner granting us Distributor rights For Tesoro in the SE. It soon became apparent why Tesoro and only Tesoro could give a Lifetime Warranty on their Units. Within 2 years I only sold Tesoro units because I preferred selling less detectors with no customer complaints to 8 different brands with 30% complaints.

    Sadly, Tesoro has fallen for lack of marketing. I know this because you don’t see any marketing and the brands with the most service problems have gone up in sales due to marketing hype. Its hard to convince anyone that the unit they just made a good find with isn’t necessarily the best. People don’t understand statistics relative to value. I appealed to Jack to address this issue in his marketing but he was not going to be seen as bad mouthing another brand. The end result is even if what is being sold is full of hype but there are 4 times more of that brand sold, they are statistically going to be lauded as the best because just by virtue of the total square feet of ground covered by the masses is going to be greater and hence more finds made. It really isn’t the engineering that sells detectors, its the marketing!

    • Joe Patrick


      Yes, we both think alike about Tesoro’s metal detectors because we have experienced it first hand. Your post confirms what we both know and that is that Tesoro metal detectors are great detectors that are easy to use, effective and built to last!

      For certain hunt situations… trashy locations, especially with lots of iron nails and for woods hunting where I am climbing up and down hills and searching along hillsides and in difficult brushy sites I would almost rather use a lightweight Tesoro than any other detector. They are comfortable to swing and work very well. I have experienced their effectiveness since almost the beginning of Tesoro back in the early 1980’s.

      Recently I have purchased a used, mint-condition Bandido II uMax and an original model Silver Sabre. I intend to find and buy other mint-condition Tesoros too. Those are my votes of confidence in Tesoro… I put my money where my mouth is!

      It looks like Tesoro may now be gone forever and we all lose because of that. Even in their shutdown we hear nothing from management and that, in my opinion, has been perhaps one of the biggest failings attributing to their closing… poor communications and almost non existing promotion.

      I, and I am certain, thousands of other detectorists would love to see Tesoro rise from the ashes. Can it happen? Will it happen? That remains to be seen but they could at least begin by keeping their users, supporters and fans up to date. It would be a great place to re-start!

      • Kenneth Weldon

        Of all the detectors Tesoro made, none was as effective as the Mayan on the salt beaches. Jack never acknowledged it as a good beach machine. But it had a unique quirk in that even though there was no circuit to alter the audio based upon conductivity, if the item was silver the audio response was a soft but solid sound every time. I proved it time and time again. There was a difference between a clad silver coin and a 90% silver coin. But again Jack said it can’t be and never tried it in a salt environment. If he had it would have been a real marketing ploy.

        I was the primary proponent to the development of the Stingray but he messed up by altering my original thicker Plexiglas lid design to keep costs down using the same material throughout. Within two years he had to modify it to prevent warping and leakage after about 2 years. He sent out notices to release the lid clamps after each use but people didn’t. I originally called for a solid thicker lid rather than a thin heat preformed lid. My original design was merely taking a saber and putting it in a lighter Garrett style case with a thicker lid. I had used it for 5 years before Jack decided to try it. I still think it was the best fresh water machine out there and it became a recommended nugget machine in that configuration.

        I wish I had the money and years to buy them out. But a lot of people felt the same way about the old Compass machines and the little back pack units.

        Take care and keep up the educational posts.

  7. Joe Patrick


    Thanks for the insight into some behind the scenes Tesoro engineering.

    Silver Sabre’s have and still are used by many freshwater detectorists and others. Their simplicity and effectiveness is hard to deny. As I have mentioned a few times before in my posts and writing, I had a friend who only owned and used one metal detector… that was an original model metal-boxed Silver Sabre with a 7” search coil. I have to tell you that he was just sensational with it! Most people simply would not believe that a “toy” metal detector could find so much. But my friend Jerry proved it over and over as I witnessed time after time in the field his phenomenal success. I myself have used Silver Sabres and they are amazing metal detectors as are most Tesoros.

    I pray that somehow Tesoro survives and resurrects itself and I would not want someone else to buy the company, radically changing its products and merely using the Tesoro brand name and reputation. Are changes needed… yes, some; But Tesoro is what it is and that is plenty good enough for most of their dedicated users. I for one would not like to see much change in product design but would for marketing and promotion. They already have a great product!

    I remember the days of such Tesoro supporters and proponents as Michael O. Smith, Ed Fedory and even myself. Tesoro seemed to do much better back then as far as sales and promotion. In my opinion, Garrett is now the master of promotion and it is working very well for them. A few other companies also do admirable jobs at promoting and marketing their products. Tesoro could and should do likewise.

    • Kenneth Weldon

      There was one more detector tidbit that I was never successful in getting Jack to buy into as a detector option but maybe other people reading your post might want to know about.

      I’m an engineer so I was always tinkering with my detectors and discussing observations at times with Jack. But in my employment we had a few deaf people as draftsmen. They were as fascinated by metal detectors as most people but they obviously had a definite handicap. In order to remedy that handicap as an experiment I took the old metal box saber and cut one of the speaker leads down side of its shunt resister and thereby effectively taking it out of the circuit but could be reconnected later if desired with a drop of solder.

      I soldered on a short length of simple phone cable wires and brought it out of the box with about 12″ to spare. I soldered the end of the wires to a cheap 1-1/4″ x 0.5″ piezo speaker/vibrator and taped it to the shaft handle in a position where I could place my index finger over it. Every time you went across a target the piezo vibrator would vibrate consistent with the energy that went into it. In other words its intensity increased consistent with the signal from the target. Interestingly enough, the piezo device is faster reacting than most detector speakers. But it actually outperformed a speaker for several reasons which are obvious. Ambient noise was no longer an issue and frequency response of the head phones was no longer an issue.

      This prototype certainly had its issues such as dirt and water proofing as well as ergonomics. But today many shafts have a more or less flattened molded ergonomic handle and the piezo device could be inserted within the handle with a waterproof seal. I never pursued a patent. I was just trying to help the deaf. I made several of these and frankly they worked better than the original device. In that configuration I have no data on longevity but that wouldn’t be an issue today.

      I just hope this post might open the door for some additional recreational activities for some people that live in a different world that is not appreciated by the general public. Sure there is sign language and lip reading but deaf people live in a world severely lacking in communication ability on the average person’s part, not their own. How many people in your world are deaf …… under the age of 70 anyway? Ha! Ha! Ha! I can barely hear any signal out of my Deus back phones already! I bought one to test and still don’t find it superior to my Cortes.

      Ken Weldon

  8. Joe Patrick


    Guys like you and I are just naturally creative and always thinking outside the box. I’ve been involved with and worked in electronics my entire life.

    Your idea is a good one. I am aware of a few metal detectors that make use of cell phone vibrator motors to transfer audio sound into handle vibrations. Such is also used in many handheld pinpointers.

    Another item that will work, though expensive, is a hearing aid bone vibrator. I used to work for a company back in the 1970’s that made the “world standard” bone vibrators. As I recall, these where available in several low-impedance versions that should work well with a metal detectors audio output. This would enable some hard of hearing individuals to hear/feel the audio from the detector. It would depend on the type of hearing loss they suffer.

    As to your mention of the Cortes… I have owned, field tested and used the Cortes and liked it very well. I wouldn’t mind owning another and probably will sometime down the road. I only wish that it ground balanced in the discrimination mode.

    • Kenneth Weldon

      In switching out a vibrator for a speaker to assist the deaf you could as you imply just replace small earbuds with a vibrator or two and they would sit against the temple. I chose not to do that for several reasons. The two major ones were: One, the finger has about 5 times more pressure sensory cells per square centimeter and hair around the temple if there is any, can reduce the effectiveness as well. Two, I was looking at cost and a simple cheap $6 piezo is rectangular and would become uncomfortable in short time. Round ones were about $35 back in the 70’s. But it is easier to construct because it lets you plug directly into the jack. Back then reasonably good individually adjustable headphones were less than $20. So one piezo for $35 would have cost around $100 for a retrofit. Today that’s nothing.

      Regarding the ground balance issue, is it really an issue? In a static detector it is more so than a motion detector. I like manual ground balance and check mine and readjust it as I note changes in the soil. But the bottom line is, ground balancing is in effect only a first stage discriminator by positioning the null point so the coil and soil matrix conductivity values are balanced. This merely gives the impression the coil doesn’t see the mineralized soil. Jack merely started his “Zero” point on the discriminator dial at a fixed value that he felt was average. This was the norm anyway before Whites and Garrett added voltage regulators in the circuit because the null point could move as voltage in the coil circuit changed and hence stability becomes an issue when there’s not enough voltage.

      Jack chose that option to avoid people over ground balancing which lessens depth and also reduces sensitivity to targets with less overall conductivity values that result from small cross-section or size as in nuggets or round jewelry. So it comes down to as a designer making a choice on what the average user may do in the operation of the detector. This brings us back to the concept if you want to make money you have to find a balance in your design between providing something more effective but not creating something the average guy will more than likely use wrong and give the impression his new machine is worse than his last. Until the development of the cell phone designers have really have to bring people along slowly in technology. Jack told me there’s only so much you can do and if you throw too much out at once what you have created is little future market capability in the long run. Maybe his offspring took that to the extreme and why they have not kept up to date.

      I dare say 90% of the detector users ever ground balance their detectors more than once or twice. But that was Garrett’s marketing scheme when he introduced automatic ground balancing in the big box Master Hunter machines. The trouble was they cycled slowly and for the first 3 feet after digging a target there was no telling what it was balanced to as it lay on the ground during recovery of the target.

      As you have so wisely said, there is no perfect detector for all occasions and users. I just shake my head in amazement over these guys who are continually buying the supposedly better machines having never really learned how to get the optimum out of what they have. Sadly they waste a lot of time and money and the problem is basic. As they say, you can’t fix stupid. But I have noted in the last couple of generations there’s less golf swinging going on. LOL LOL LOL

      The biggest improvement overall in all detectors has been less weight which has resulted in many more finds because more hours are spent detecting. Remember when people wouldn’t buy the light units because they were perceived as toys. It took Tesoro and Technetics to change the attitudes of people and world wide along with micro circuitry on that issue. All this makes me wonder why anyone would design something that weighs as much as the 30-30. I’m not knocking their ability at all. The truth is, if desirable targets are there, more effectiveness is achieved by proper technique and coil selection than any other two factors. But you aren’t going to see that promoted because that doesn’t sell detectors!

      OH! I built two wireless detectors back in the early 80s. No one was interested because it was too heavy. I should have pursued it again when micro-circuitry really came of age. Charles Garrett should never have run me and my wife out of his design room like we were going to steel his design plans. I was there to establish a distributorship which never happened. If I had only had the foresight I wouldn’t have retired only as a civil engineer who liked to tinker.

      Its been great sharing old times and I wish you the best. I won’t continue to bore you or others any longer on the good old days.

      Ken Weldon AKA Tallyther

  9. Joe Patrick

    You make lots of good and interesting points Ken. I could talk about this stuff all day long as it fascinates me. However, most detectorists just want to detect and not know so much about the intricacies of equipment. Not me, I want to know it all! Thanks for sharing some “behind the scenes” information. I have more than a few insider “stories” myself but they are perhaps better off left unsaid. At least for now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.