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A look back in time and we see some manufacturers made a few mistakes.confused smiley

January 02, 2021 03:48AM avatar
What is a 'mistake?': For this write-up let me qualify that a 'mistake' was either:

#1... Listening to some consumers and doing what they wanted to make things 'simpler.'.

... or ...

#2.. Not listening to avid consumers and doing what they asked for to produce a far-more versatile, yet 'simple' detector.

And for this contribution to our 2021 reading during shut-in time, I am going to point my finger at two once-good but now defunct brands: Tesoro and White's. Let's take them alphabetically and address #1 with Tesoro products. And I am not going to touch on the latter-days when Jack Gifford was gone because Vince, a nice guy, just wan't the design engineer his Dad was, even though the Tesoro line was long known for being very 'basic' or 'simple' and never providing a decent visual Target ID or audio Tone ID model to compete with the then-current market.


I was instantly attracted to the Tesoro line in July of '83 when Jack introduced their Inca. Their first full-production model with silent-search Discrimination that offered a Quick-Response / Fast-Recovery and, due to the excellent design, it handled common Iron trash well and made the Inca the best detector pick at the time for taking on the very ferrous-littered ghost towns I've enjoyed Relic Hunting since May of '69.

What other features made the Inca a really good choice? Other than the new physical design it featured:

• A Threshold-based All Metal mode.

• Manual Ground Balance adjustment that was also tied-in with the silent-search Discriminate mode.thumbs up.

• A functional big push-button for Mode-Change and manual Retune.

• The standard coil was an 8" Concentric coil, and, fortunately, most of the coils Tesoro made and based their circuitry designs on were the Concentric type. Better still, they also offered a 7" Concentric which worked much handier in and around heavy brush, building rubble and abundant scattered debris.

Let's peek at the other models that were being produced by Tesoro in July of '83, that were a newer physical design and not the older-style VLF/TR-Disc. units. Those include:


All of these were also basic models that were a VLF/TR-Disc. design and not a new motion-based Discriminator. Therefore, the new Inca was really a bold move forward with a useful, versatile detector. Even the Fisher 1260, designed by the Dave Johnson 'team' and introduced the year before in '82 couldn't compete with the Inca. Their Iron Nail ejection was terrible, but that's how the design went, leaving the Inca a terrific new detector.

So, looking back to after the Inca came out in July of '83, what newer makes and models did we see released for the next 6½ years, other than those design for Gold Nugget Hunting? Here you go:

Silver Sabre .. Oct. '83 This was the first model introduced after the Inca, and was basically the Inca's Disc. circuitry fashioned in a smaller-size housing that lacked a true All Metal mode, pinpoint function, or Ground Balance.)

Golden Sabre .. Feb. '85 (Their first turn-on-and-go model with Notch Disc., but lacking Tone ID, All Metal / Pinpoint, and GB adjustment.)

Cutlass .. Nov. '85 (Basically, a simplified turn-on-and-go Silver Sabre.)

Royal Sabre .. Apr. '86 (Turn-on-and-go Notch Disc model with Tone ID, Surface Blanking, and Pinpoint function.)

Silver Sabre Plus .. Aug. '86 (This one was one of the Tesoro's 'goofs' as it had a lot of performance glitches and was not as consistent a performer as the 'original' Silver Sabre.)

Eldorado (original) .. Nov. '86 (OK, but not as good as or as deep as the Inca.)

Toltec 100 .. Dec. '87 (Had manual GB, but wasn't a great attempt to compete with the visual TID morels, and had a more segmented display rather than a free-floating TID meter.)

Toltec 80 .. May '88 (Just a weak attempt for a turn-on-and-go TID that didn't work all that well.)

Golden Sabre Plus .. Mar. '89 (This was the 'improved' Golden Sabre model that was turn-on-and-go, had Notch Disc., 2-Tone audio ID, Pinpoint, and this was Tesoro's one-and-only model at 15 kHz.)

For 6½ years, as an active Tesoro Dealer since July of '83, I relied on the Inca as my primary unit, but did also keep an 'original' Silver Sabre on-hand since that October. The other models? Some I liked a bit, most I didn't care for, and as you could note, Jack's idea was to listen to consumers, or the bulk of them a the time who were your everyday Coin & Jewelry Hunters, and make more Tesoro's that were a 'turn-on-and-go' design with a factory preset GB and not offer a much more versatile model.

In March of '90 we did get some moves to more versatile performance in the way of an enhanced Discrimination range, as well as some models that DID offer manual GB. The 'original' Bandido, one of four in the 'series' was introduced and it brought us the ED-120 Discrimination. Prior to that, all their Discriminators used a more restrictive Disc. circuitry with a lot more ferrous as well as very-low conductive rejection. The ED-120 Disc. enhanced the performance using a lower-end Disc. setting such that at 'minimum' it was just about at the Ferrous / Non-Ferrous break-point.

Plus, the new Bandido was in a smaller-size, under-slung control housing and used 2-9V batteries instead of slide-in AA battery packs. It also featured a Threshold control, manual GB using a 10-turn pot, and like most Tesoro's it still came with a Concentric coil. The All Metal mode had a very pleasant re-tune speed and had a toggle for quicker manual re-tune, if desired. At that time, the Bandido became my main-use Tesoro. In September of '91 Jack introduced the Silver Sabre II, which used the same control housing, had a Threshold knob and a Pinpoint mode, and also used the ED-120 Disc. circuitry, but was a 'turn-on-and-go' model for those who had asked for a more easy-to-use model that they didn't have to learn how to manually GB.

In January of '93 they released the Bandido II which looked almost the same, used the ED-120 Disc., had a Threshold-based All Metal mode, manual GB, etc., ... however, it came with an extra toggle switch. It simply said 'Normal' for manual re-tune, or 'Auto' which put the Bandido II in a very fast Auto-Tune function. It worked fine, and the main reason for that was to offer the Bandido II as a versatile detector that might work well for Gold Nugget Hunting where a fast Auto-Tune would be helpful in the All Metal mode. Personally, I liked both models, promoted and sold both models, and used both of them, too.

In March of '96 we got the µMAX (microMAX) Bandido which was the first to come out in the small control housing and was powered by 1-9V battery. It is the one Bandido series model you ought to avoid. No external Threshold control makes it close to useless, and it is also the wimpiest of all the Bandido models. The main change they made was switching to a smaller 3¾-turn pot.

October of '97 was, for me, the more memorable new-release time for Tesoro as they brought out two much improved models, both of which I have maintained in my personal-use outfit ever since. They are the Bandido II µMAX and Silver Sabre µMAX. Both use the new 'microMAX' housing and 1-9V battery, have the ED-120 Disc., Pinpoint, and both have an external Threshold control for the All Metal mode (Bandido II µMAX) or Pinpoint feature (Silver Sabre µMAX). The additional circuitry enhancement they share is that they use the Low-Noise / High-Gain circuitry that improves their depth-of-detection, saturates the audio much better, and gives them more 'spark' on lower-conductive and smaller-size targets.

And what happened since the release of the 'original' Bandido? These came along: Compadre, Conquistador and Conquistador µMAX, Cutlass II and µMAX Cutlass then Cutlass II µMAX, DeLeón, Eldorado in µMAX housing, Euro-Sabre, Golden µMAX, Golden Sabre II, Pantera, Shadow X2, Sidewinder and µMAX Sidewinder, and Silver µMAX. That is a lot of models, some of which had design glitches to stay away from, and of them all I only found two that had my interest. The Pantera was a good move to provide consumers with a Notch Disc. model that featured a Threshold-based All Metal mode and manual GB, and the Euro-Sabre that was intended to give us a versatile manual GB model with a 2-Tone audio to help classify most ferrous trash.

I really liked the Pantera I bought from Rusty, but once-again, we saw the poor trend to follow the consumers who wanted 'turn-on-and-go' simple designs. The Pantera was only made from 7-'90 to 2-'92 when they used the Pantera circuit board, and in 7-'92 re-introduced it as a 'turn-on-and-go' Golden Sabre II. Sadly, they never got into better engineering to make the Euro Sabre work properly. It flopped in Europe and then flopped when they tried to sell it in the US relic hunter's market.

A Tesoro Overview: I did miss mentioning a few of the older Tesoro's, and just remembered that the Mojave was one of their best pre-set GB models. Of all the units they offered, eliminating those with glitches or just not up to being very versatile. I liked the Mojave, Silver Sabre II, and most especially the Silver Sabre µMAX. Of the better-performing models, the Inca, Pantera, Bandido, Bandido II, and without hesitation the Bandido II µMAX .... all using either a 7" or in recent years the 6" Concentric coils combined to reward me by finding at least 95% of all the old coins, tokens, military and other good stuff from my all-time favorite ghost town. That's 95% of over four binders of carded keepers, and hundreds of good targets don't get found all that well these days.

Sadly, they are gone, but they did bring out a few useful detectors, along with a wide-wide range of pre-set GB 'simple' detectors.


So, what was the big problem with "The Company That Wouldn't Listen?" The answer is totally related to their efforts to deal with Tesoro who came on the scene and offered a LOT of detectors that were appealing to consumers. For abut a decade White's was busy with the top-end Target ID and fast-motion models. They didn't have an in-house engineer to produce a competitive model for the Tesoro products ... until ....

They contracted with William 'Bill' Lahr in California and he came up with a very competitive set of detectors that were initially called the Coinmaster Classic series. The CC 1 was hard-wired, and the CC 2 and 3 had interchangeable coils and a little more adjustments. All, however, were designed as a 'grab-and-go' detector that provided very impressive, and comparable with Tesoro, slow-motion / quick-response and fast recovery. Then they started to goof:sad smiley

They brought out the Coinmaster Classic 3 Plus that used the newer Blue Max series search coils and came with the 950. But it also featured a variable Frequency Adjust control .... that was close to useless! Why? Because the concept was to make a Frequency Shift in case you were in a Competition Hunt or working close to other interference. A nice idea, but the Classic's were still designed a little different from how Jack made the Tesoro's. The Tesoro approach had the Ground Balance tied to both the Threshold-based All Metal / Pinpoint feature as well as the Discriminate mode . Also, to help eliminate possible falsing should the Disc. mode GB be a little too negative, Tesoro designs use a positive GB offset in the the Disc. mode.

Th White's design was just the opposite and where the Tesoro All metal mode ought to be GB'ed just a little negative, with the White's design the All Metal mode should have a very slightly positive GB setting for there to not be any falsing in the Disc. mode. Okay, you ask, what was the design problem? It was that blasted Frequency Adjust control. If it is set as designed at the ▼'preset' mark all was well. But, if you had any EMI issues and changed the Frequency Adjust control, it also shifted the Ground Balance setting, and the result was a lot of falsing.

Looking at the positive side they soon engineered these units into the 'Classic' series and got away from 3-9V batteries by making use of the SL (Slim-Line) housing that used the slide-in 8-AA battery tray. Also, they brought out the Classic ID SL that featured simple yet functional 8-segment Target ID designed by their engineer, John Earl, using 'flash technology" circuitry design. Also, the Classic ID SL went to the Blue Max series search coils like the then-new Classic III SL. But the same design glitch was there making the Frequency Adjust control virtually useless because any change shifted theangry smiley GB setting.

You could peel back the US Flag and access the GB trimmer, or open it up and go to the VR4 trimmer on the side of the board to get a proper Threshold adjustment .... but that was all internal. What a savvy consumer really needed was to have a good Classic III SL that featured an external Threshold control and external Ground Balance control. The in-house engineers at White's did not do anything about that. I can assure you it was brought to their attention... several times .. especially very soon. How soon was 'Very Soon?' It was after William 'Mr. Bill' Crabtree and I had some cross-country discussions.

We had already been discussing the XLT and settings, and then we shifted to the really impressive Classic SL series and 'Mr. Bill' went to work and modified a Classic III SL. Then he modified one for me and, from that day I never had an unmodified Classic III SL, IDX Pro or Classic ID. All of them took advantage of the external Threshold and GB controls and that meant I could change any search coils and properly 'calibrate' or 'Ground Balance' the devices.

I lived 2-2½ hours from White's and made many trips down there, unfortunately, because I frequently had search coils that failed and needed repair. Time and time again I pointed out to them that these models could provide consumers a very competitive detector, to handle any site or challenge, and without any falsing .... IF they had a factory-designed Threshold or GB control on the outside.

So while Tesoro paid too much attention to consumers who wanted easier-to-use models, White's decided to ignore the very obvious design enhancements 'Mr. Bill' designed, and they were shown, hands-on, why I liked the modified Classic series.

Anyway, there's a look back in time to some of the better detectors we have had, could have, and for some folks, like 'zincoln' who snagged a really useful modified IDX Pro, we can see some of the now-defunct models that still offer us a lot of surprising in-the-field performance. Yes, we have some really good newer detectors this past few years, but never overlook any of the former, yet proven, detectors. I know I sure don't.

Sorry if this was long and boring. It's taken me 3 days to slowly get it typed out as I am making slow progress at recovering.


"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

Stinkwater Wells Trading Post
Metal Detector Evaluations and Product Reviews
I'm now located in Clyde, Texas
monte@ahrps.org ... or ... monte@stinkwaterwells.com
Detector Outfit: A selection of my favorite makes and models, with the best coils mounted, for the tasks I'll take on.
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*** All working well today to make memories for tomorrow. ***
Subject Author Views Posted

A look back in time and we see some manufacturers made a few mistakes.confused smiley

Monte 231 January 02, 2021 03:48AM

Goofs other than by the defunct Tesoro and White's might also include ----

Monte 107 January 03, 2021 04:25PM

Fisher F5 Attachments

SvenS 173 January 03, 2021 07:15PM

SvenS, 'Thank You' for adding your current post and former comments.

Monte 88 January 03, 2021 10:07PM


SvenS 98 January 03, 2021 07:45PM

Here are a few of my mistakes.confused smiley

Hombre 124 January 02, 2021 04:14PM

Re: A look back in time and we see some manufacturers made a few mistakes.confused smiley

D&P-OR 127 January 02, 2021 11:45AM

Re: A look back in time and we see some manufacturers made a few mistakes.confused smiley

SvenS 134 January 02, 2021 09:07AM

And that's why those who learn it and know it can do well.

Monte 149 January 02, 2021 10:00AM

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