Interview Neil Jones, Discussing Myths About Metal Detector Depths

Metal Detecting Tips Neil Jones

Neil Jones is a recognized name in metal detecting, especially among the detectorists who use Minelabs. He is known for showing detectorists how to program their machines to go deeper and get impressive finds even in iron-infested locations or mineralized soil. One of his well-known Beach to Land programs for the Minelab Equinox is discussed often among detectorists on social media, metal detecting forums, podcasts, and in person. Besides seeing

Neil is all over YouTube guest-starring on various metal detecting channels, he also runs three Metal Detecting Facebook groups. The biggest being DUG THAT’S OFFICIAL MINELAB EQUINOX 800-600 GROUP with 15000+ members. If you are striving to be an advanced metal detectorist, this will be the article to read to get deeper and better finds.

How or why did you get into metal detecting?
Hi Joanna, I got interested in the hobby over forty years ago when my Dad saw an advert in a UK magazine called Exchange & Mart now out of print for a small hand held metal Detector that had a small light that lit up when metal was detected. We only found rusty nails and little bits of iron and a Victorian penny but the seed was sown. My Dad then purchased a Field Master Metal Detector but soon got bored so I carried on using it in woods and parks etc. I was finding more with this machine, in fact lots coins and artifacts from Georgian to modern times which was amazing to me and such a thrill. I upgraded through several machines until I saw adverts in the hobby magazines for a new space age looking and highly programmable metal detector with new FBS multi frequency technology from Minelab called the Explorer XS. It was a complete game changer especially for separation amongst iron in highly mineralized soil and absolutely amazing depth too. My finds rate increased in a really big way and I have used Minelab ever since.

What find was it that made you realize that you want to continue in this hobby? I presume it was something meaningful and tickled your interest and hooked you.
I presume it was something meaningful and tickled your interest and hooked you. This question I can’t really answer as most of my finds back then as a whole tickled my interest and had me hooked. I still get that same anticipated feeling when digging a signal now, even if it turns out to be a really worn Georgian coin or a cruddy Roman grot (coin). It never changed I really do get the same feelings now, that rush, that belly buzz of retrieving and seeing a nice find in the palm of my hand from any period in history, those feelings are the same now as I felt in those early years way back then.

What do you wish detectorists did more of to get more depth and quality finds from their detectors?
I wish detectorists would improve their swing technique and slow down, this includes beginners and seasoned detectorists, I would say 85% of detectorists need to improve the way they swing their machines. Go on any dig, any rally and look around the fields it’s so easy to see it happening. The most common reason for this bad habit in my mind is when people first start detecting they copy what they see others do. It’s so important and can be corrected, and if corrected their finds rates would increase in a really big way. Also so many hobbyists buy expensive mid range and high end detectors in a hope that the machines will find more. But and this is a big “but”, they only use approx 60% of the machines available power, they might as well of purchased a much cheaper model and saved some money. Or they could get a lot lot more from said machines by tuning up and increasing the power of the unit so as to get the full bang for their bucks. I absolutely love to see people’s finds increase after I coach them on my training sessions and events, it gives me a real big buzz and great satisfaction.

Pulling old silver coins from the older virgin ground is easy. Pulling deep silver coins from old, heavily detected, trashy parks is not. For those detectorists who want to find older coins and skip over modern clad and trash, what do you suggest they fine-tune skills-wise?
My answer won’t be popular Joanna but here goes. You need to clear the junk, as in ring pulls, bottle tops, chopped aluminium cans, silver paper, etc. First though a few tips to help. Very important in fact one of the most important aspects of the hobby and very very hard to do is to as mentioned above use the correct technique for these conditions. This means slowing your swing right down “a fast swing will lose the bling”. Also sliding the coil flat on the surface of the grass or soil, don’t hover and don’t lift the coil at the end of your swing.

The coil cover is there for a reason, so wear it out. Keep your coil flat to the ground, then you’ll discover what hasn’t been found. If you go through one or two covers a year it shows your doing things right. Make sure you overlap the coil, this means putting one foot in front of the other not one step in front. Follow the overlap, be a penguin not a giraffe. DON’T use to much discrimination, just use the bare minimum or even better is to use all metal, also use multi tone audio so you can winkle tricky finds from in-between the iron. Discrimination decreases interpretation thus decreasing separation and penetration. Use as much sensitivity as you can handle, the more the better. I use full sensitivity but it’s very hard to do. In parks, yards etc to get the deep older artifacts and coins of all metal types the best way by far is clear the modern clad and trash.

Pick a small area say a 30ft square patch and detect in gridding fashion digging all the obvious non ferrous signals, bottle tops, silver paper, shredded cans, ring pulls, modern coins and artifacts.

All these non ferrous finds mask the older finds underneath, a sad but very true fact. The more you remove the more you will unmask. When you have taken the obvious modern trash and finds out grid and redo the 30ft square again. You will know your doing it right as your finds will get older and signals will get fainter and deeper, but there will also be old shallow coins and artifacts missed by all the detectorists that were there previously, and you will hit the trickiest of signals in amongst the old shallower iron. These are the very extreme and very partial type of signal that can only be heard by using the methods above. Just remember “slow and low is the way to go” , your coil needs all the information it can get to read the soil.

Trust me a park is a park and world wide they are full of the same type of junk and goodies too.

Whisper signals, what methods do you use to magnify whisper signals in the field?
My settings are all about amplification, exaggeration and magnification and zero discrimination. So personally I use my detector at maximum power, my settings such as sensitivity and gain are set at max, plus I use all metal mode and multi tones, combine those with a slow and correct swing technique this brings out the most extreme and faint of micro signals. A big plus is it brings supposed worked out fields back to life.

Discriminating undesirable targets, how could or would that affect the depth and performance of your detector? Or should you be detecting in all-metal mode to go deep?
Any kind of discrimination comes with a loss of something else so it’s best if you can to leave it alone. The way I see it is, “to discrim is a sin”.

In the United States, we have these wide-mouth twist-off metal bottle tops for glass bottles, that sound so good, they sound like old silver coins, they trick even seasoned detectorists.  Some parks are littered with them, is there any way to avoid digging them as much?
No no and no, dig them and remove them to make way for the more desirable targets that they are masking.

Where can detectorists go to see the various programs and settings you suggest for various detectors?

I’m also in three Andy Sabisch Minelab books, Explorer, ETrac, CTX3030, and the Equinox. 

You can see my exact Beach to Land Program setting in the video below.

Metal Detecting Videos

I would like to thank Neil Jones for his answers and hope they help our readers get better deeper finds.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for the great information on the settings . I tend to use these on the beach a lot. What are your opinions on getting a 15 inch coil for my nox 600. Thank you and have a blessed day.

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