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The Perfect Partnership  

Written by Dynamite_Davis

You may think this a funny title for a piece on metal detecting, after all am I talking about two machines? Me and my detecting partner? Or indeed the partnership between me and my own machine.

The answer is simply all three!! I have been detecting since the age of eight, I was truly destined for this hobby, as it had already been my dad’s passion for many a year before me. I’m now rapidly approaching my 30th year on this earth, and we have spent the last twenty two years together as a detecting partnership, to be honest growing up I simply could not have wished for a better person to learn from.

Knowing what I know now I would recommend all newcomers to the hobby to try to get a detecting partner, someone who has experience would be ideal but above all someone to share those priceless moments with! Those times when you shout out across a field that you’ve found something nice, are times you will never forget! Certainly for me detecting on my own does not give me quite the same thrill and buzz as being out detecting with my dad.

If you are not overly competitive, you can really reap the rewards of working as a pair, purely because this means you stand more chance of discovering those hot-spots on your search areas (after all two coils has to be better than one). We, like a lot of metal detectorists, have thousands of acres of land that we have permission to search on….. Over the years how many of our finds would still lay undiscovered if either one of us were detecting alone? The mind boggles believe me.

You think about walking on to just a 10-acre field…. You look down at for arguments sake at an 11” coil, now think how much of this field am I really going to cover? The simple answer is a tiny fraction of it! You could spend hour after hour, month after month on a field that size, and not even scratch the surface when it comes to finding coins and artefacts.

We have had smaller pasture fields that we have detected for 5 or 6 fruitless years only to suddenly find they start producing roman finds. It’s almost as if from nowhere finds have been magically transported into the soil. I firmly believe I would not of had anywhere near the number of good personal finds, if I worked my current sites alone, purely because I may never of walked over the hotspots on my own.

Pooling of resources

When we first started detecting as a partnership we always used different machines this was 100% down to the fact I was using my dads old machines when he upgraded! It was the only downsides to being a schoolboy at the time rather than having a job, and earning money to plough in to my hobby I got the hand me downs.

This trend of us using different machines continued quite accidentally but we have since discovered it to be of great benefit to us. My dad currently uses a Minelab Explorer and I have and Explorer in the cupboard and an XP Goldmaxx Power as my preferred machine.

May I add that this is not down to individual performance it’s down to the fact that the XP complements the Explorer perfectly! Both of these machines will find the hard to find items, but both have different characteristics and overall strengths. By that I mean in difficult circumstances one of these machines may find that elusive hotspot that bit easier than the other.

Both have similar performance but the XP must be used very slowly to get extreme depth whereas the Minelab will need to be used very slowly to get items amongst trash! You can therefore see that as a pair, these machines work as a great combination towards finding those elusive targets and hotspots.

There are many great combinations, one of our past favourites was an Arado 120b and the Fisher 1265X (admittedly you didn’t particularly want to go to close to a Fisher with an Arado though, crikey that was painful on the ears).

Being as one with your machine

Just as I have described my partnership with my Dad to be the number one key to my success in this hobby to date, the wisdom that he has passed on to me regarding learning my machines has stood me in good stead.

There are three things you need to learn when you get a new machine :-

1) What are the good signals like (either sound or sound & meter reading)

2) What do the ferrous/iron items sound like (either sound or sound & meter reading)

3) What does an iffy signal sound like and if I have a meter where does it register

Remember that all machines will give an iffy signal to good targets that are next to iron, on edge or at the limit of the detectors detection capabilities. This makes digging iffy signals essential to being successful in this hobby. Deciding what is iffy and what is outright terrible and thus iron, is the hardest thing to learn in metal detecting. This is purely because you cannot teach this to someone; you can only learn it by using your machines and digging quite a bit of rubbish to start off with.

I firmly believe that the ability to recognise iffy signals is one of the things that sets certain detectorists apart from others… Why does Joe Bloggs always come in to the club meetings with a hammered coin??? Yes he may have good sites… but then why does he always find hammered coins on club digs and rally’s??? Maybe he’s just lucky!!! Remember by knowing your machine you too will become that little bit luckier.

It’s like the old golf pro Gary Player’s famous statement “the more I practice the luckier I get”

Dynamite’s Tip:- When judging iffy signals always look for excuses to dig not an excuse to walk away… if you look for an excuse to leave a signal you will always find it whether it’s really there or not.

I feel I now have my current machine setup perfectly for me! Other people have tried to use the Goldmaxx Power the same way as I do and they can’t get on with it…. This is because my ears have adjusted to the settings I’ve chosen.
I chose to set my machine up from day one at settings I knew from both in air tests and test beds were maximising it’s ability to both go deep and find coins close to iron.

I then stuck with these settings and struggled for the first few weeks, but simply by sticking with them and digging lots of signals both good and bad I managed to train myself to recognise what is good and what is trash.

I have now been in fields where I’ve checked signals with people who own the same machine… they have said signals were rubbish when I said I’d dig them! The items have always turned out to be non ferrous (not iron), one certainly turned out to be a cut half (hammered), and the other that I remember was a less impressive horse brass but very deep. This does not mean I am using superior settings to the other chaps, it just means I’m hearing something in that signal that makes me think “that sounds dodgy but it’s not quite like an iron signal”

This is a saying I use and I think I’ve made it up “A good detectorist is a nosey detectorist”

Reasons for this :-

1) A nosey detectorist will dig the dodgy (iffy) signals because he simply can’t resist finding out what it is.

2) A nosey detectorist will try every setting on a new machine in the hope of finding the best balanced performance.

3) A nosey detectorist will listen at length to what other people are doing with there machines. Remember you may think someone is talking rubbish but there is no harm in experimentation. If you feel your settings are wrong believe me your doomed to end up hating your machine.

Dynamite’s Tip:-

If someone gives you some new settings for your machine don’t fully commit to them but do try to give them a fair chance.

There are two types of people that usually give you advice on setting up a machine:-

1) The person who basically doesn’t have a clue and who will say black is white simply because they want to believe that there way is best.

2) The chap that has studied his machine endlessly and has discovered what he considers the best settings for finding small items in tricky English conditions and longs to share his knowledge.

Now how can you tell who’s genuinely offering good advice?

If you are totally new to the machine then I’d recommend listening to everyone and asking as many questions as possible. Those that really know what there talking about, can usually backup there settings by describing what they are doing and why.

On the other hand those that are trying to offer you settings and cannot back them up with a decent conversation about them are usually full of hot air.

Beware of the person that says give me your machine then proceeds to adjust everything without explaining what he’s doing and what the positive affects and maybe even negative affects are.


In my opinion the key thing with metal detecting is knowledge. There are two ways I recommend learning and both go together hand in hand! You basically need to talk and learn from as many experienced detectorists as possible. But what people tend to forget is the person you learn from most of all is yourself…. We all make mistakes in life but we all learn from them too. If you question every signal you get throughout your detecting life you will not go far wrong! Remember "Why should I dig?, NOT why should I walk away?"
Even the guys who have been detecting for over 30 years are still learning so your never going to be alone! I consider I will be learning this hobby right up to the day I give it up, hopefully many years down the line.

Whether you choose to detect on your own or with a partner like myself I truly hope you are having or end up having as much fun as I have so far.


Chris Davis