Golden uMax Field Test

by Joe Patrick

In the mid 1980's, Tesoro Electronics introduced a new type of metal detector that gave operators a way to eliminate digging most pulltabs without eliminating nickels, gold rings and coins. This technology was named Notch Discrimination.

I remember very well one of my early experiences using an original Golden Sabre…

I was attending a local club hunt, at the site of an old picnic grove near Pittsburgh, Penn. Understanding the advantage that notch would give me over my no-notch competition, I decided to use the notch function during one of the hunts.

As you might imagine, there were many searches, all covering the same small plot of ground during the 45-minute hunt. As I followed about 100 feet behind, I watched two club members "run" a pattern just below the top of a small ridge. As I got to where they had just searched, I heard the unmistakable sound of a good, but weak, target. As I began my retrieval, Frank and his partner walked over to see what they had just missed. Well, their eyes about "bugged-out" when I pulled a 1922, 10K, Curry College class ring out of the hole! That single discovery convinced me of the power and advantage of using Tesoro's notch system.

Tesoro's Golden Sabre detectors have been very popular with detectorists, so it's no wonder that Tesoro "fans" have been asking lately, "When's the 'next generation' Golden Sabre coming out?" Well folks, it's here-and I can tell you that it is one, sweet metal detector that is just loaded with new features and performance.


One of the most striking and notable features and improvements of the new Golden uMax is its new 9 by 8-inch oval, concentric searchcoil.

Not only does this coil improve detection depth, but I have noticed that it can actually sense shallow targets that are slightly outside of its perimeter. This makes its ground coverage ability outstanding.

The new coil has a very thin profile and open frame design making it lightweight and easy to handle for such a "large" size.

For the past several years, many Tesoro users have been commenting about, requesting and waiting for Tesoro to add audio tone identification to their new models. Well, the wait is over. The Golden uMax has both audio tone identification and VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) all-metal pinpointing.

The audio tone ID works in the discrimination mode and has four distinct and different tones to indicate a large surface target or overload condition.

When a target is too close to the coil, it creates a very large signal. The Golden uMax responds with a "double beep" signal to let you know when this occurs.

The other four audio tones are: 240 Hz for iron, foil and very small gold rings; 315 Hz for foil, nickels, small gold rings and some pulltabs; 370 Hz for most pulltabs, some gold rings and screw caps. The highest and last tone is 500 Hz for pennies, silver and clad coins, etc.

There can and will be some overlap of target signals and tones and target ambiguity, but I found the audio tone ID to be an immense aid in "classifying" unknown targets still in the ground-although, I wish it had a little more frequency spread (separation) between the four tones.

Once a target is located, switching to the pinpoint mode activates the VCO pinpointing audio. This is a slowmotion all metal tone that varies from 260-420 Hz depending on the target's size, depth and metallic composition. The closer you are to the target and its center, the higher the tone of the pinpointing signal. I found this feature to work well and found I began to like it more as I used it.

I, personally, prefer Tesoro's single-tone modulated audio for pinpointing and I wish they had incorporated a switch to select either standard or VCO audio for pinpointing. Some may disagree with me on this, but it would be my preference if possible.

The Golden uMax's notch feature has "NORMAL," "WIDE," and "OFF" settings. The Normal and Wide settings are used in conjunction with the "NOTCH WIDTH" control to eliminate the unwanted target(s). This feature works well enough but may be a little too difficult to understand unless you have a Golden uMax in hand. Basically, you adjust the DISC control to a low setting, perhaps to just eliminate iron and foil. Then, you adjust the notch to eliminate pulltabs. By doing this, you have the best chance at finding most coins and many types of gold rings without digging pulltabs. This is just one example of many that can beaccomplished by using notch discrimination… and it is exactly how I found the 1922 Curry College class ring. It does require careful adjustment though and a total understanding of its operation to obtain maximum results.

Tesoro's Golden uMax has four controls and two switches that control its operation. At the top right side is the THRESHOLD control, which is used to set the All Metal threshold audio. Just below it is the SENSITIVITY and POWER on/off control. At the bottom right side is the DISCRIMINATION control. At the left side is the NOTCH WIDTH control as explained above. Located at the bottom center is a threeposition toggle switch used to set the notch OFF, NARROW or WIDE. The other toggle switch is used to test the battery and to select either the ALL METAL or DISC operating modes.

The BATT TEST used on the new Golden uMax is also something new. Previous Tesoro models have used the "tone-on-power-up" method to test the battery. With the new Golden uMax, you can test the battery at any time by simply pressing the toggle switch to the BATT TEST position. A new, fully charged battery will produce 6 or 7 beeps. When you hear only 1 or 2 beeps, it will be time to replace the battery. I like this battery test method, but sometimes, during pinpointing, I would move the switch too far to the left and unintentionally enter the battery test mode.

The Golden uMax weighs just 2.2 pounds and is housed in Tesoro's miniature uMax housing. Their standard 3-piece locking pole assembly is used. Tesoro's typical high-quality is readily apparent in the Golden uMax and overall, it provides an outstanding combination of performance, comfort and ease-of-use.

Field Use

I had an opportunity to use the Golden uMax at several different locations. My first time out, I searched a high vista overlook above the Monongahela river. This site produced several Indian Head cents and an old metal button. The tone ID, VCO pinpointing and overload signal made detecting very informative-something I am not accustomed to for such a small, lightweight detector. I can tell you that the Golden uMax makes a great "woods" detector. The only complaint I have is that the open coil design catches on branches and stubble. A solid coil cover would eliminate this problem. Other than that, I was well pleased with its performance and features. I am amazed at what it provides for such a small package.

Its sensitivity, depth capability and discrimination are all "typical" Tesoro. Those who are familiar with Tesoro detectors know that they discriminate very well, have above average depth capability and are very sensitive, especially to small targets. Having used Tesoro detectors for many years, I can tell you that the new Golden uMax now ranks as one of my favorite Tesoro's.

Site number two turned out to be a dud. It was the location of a 1793 homesite, with the home still standing! Unfortunately, too many things have happened over the years including landscaping, scrap auto parts and numerous outbuildings being constructed… all of which left little original ground available for detecting. I did discover though that the Golden uMax handles trash very well and the overload signal saved a lot of unnecessary digging.

Having no luck at this site, I moved to the location of another old colonial home a few miles up the road. Using the Golden uMax with notch off and preset discrimination, I was able to identify good targets by listening to the tone ID…this was enjoyable detecting.

Having about two hours to detect, I managed to find a few early Wheat cents, an old Crucifix, several old buttons, a brass Terret ring (horse harness) and an 1896 Indian Head cent…which cleaned up very well.


I have been a big Tesoro fan and advocate for many years now and can honestly say that I have not used any Tesoro metal detector that did not perform well. Since the early 1980's, I have used most of their models at one time or another. Always, I have found Tesoro detectors to provide high performance and ease of use at a price that is very reasonable.

The new Golden uMax continues that fine tradition and shows that Tesoro, as a company, is still listening to the wants and wishes of their customers. The Golden uMax is a fine detector with a lot of surprising features and is certain to please many coin and jewelry hunters. I also believe that it is quite capable of relic hunting, as many Tesoro models have proven to be, especially now with the new 9 by 8 and larger searchcoils.

At a retail price of $529.00, the Golden uMax comes with a 9 by 8 searchcoil, 9-volt Alkaline battery, 26- page operator instruction manual and Tesoro's Limited Lifetime Warranty coverage. Be sure to check one out…I know you will be impressed…I am!

* - Reprinted with permission from Tesoro, "Metal Detector Information" - 22nd Edition