Field Testing Minelabs Gp3000
By Chris Gholson
From Page 24
March, 2004 issue of Lost Treasure

In 1892, a young and hopeful Albert Gaston set off across the vast Western Australian desert in search of gold. News spread like wildfire about a fabulous gold strike near the present day town of Coolgardie; destined to become one of Australias richest deposits.

Spurred on by the new discovery, Gaston with only a few shillings in his pocket loaded his meager belongings into a makeshift wheelbarrow and walked the two hundred miles separating York and Coolgardie. It was a gruelingly long journey, water was extremely scarce and on several occasions he nearly perished.

In his autobiography Coolgardie Gold (a personal favorite), he reminisced of the first sight to greet his eyes in this new gold-rush town. It was a verse he saw carved into the trunk of a tree, which read:

Damn Coolgardie! Damn the track! Damn it there and damn it back! Damn the country! Damn the weather! Damn the goldfields all together!

Not exactly words of encouragement for someone that had just walked 200 miles! I am certain that had the disgruntled fellow who scratched these words been swinging Minelabs newest and finest gold machine, the GP3000, his poem would have read much differently!

New Features of the GP3000

Although nearly identical in appearance, the GP3000 has several new features not found on the GP Extreme. These include: Low-Noise circuitry, new battery harness, Smart Point diagnostic port, longer lasting 12A/Hr Gel Cell battery, and a heavier bungee cord.

The new Low-Noise circuitry is a valuable addition because it results in a smoother more stable threshold, enhancing the operators ability to hear faint signals caused by small and deep targets.

The new Smart Point is a diagnostic test port to help Minelab technicians troubleshoot problems quicker and efficiently should your 3000 ever need service. Like its predecessor, the 3000 also boasts Dual Voltage Technology (DVT). DVT refers to changes in the voltage used to create the electro-magnetic field transmitted from the coil into the ground.

Minelab engineers discovered that by using two different voltages the possibility of magnetic saturation of the ground was lessened. Thus, detectors using DVT have an increased ability to balance out ground mineralization proving increased depth and greater sensitivity compared to other detectors.

The 3000 is a fairly complex metal detector and it would be difficult for me to cover each and every control within the confines of this rather short article, so I have decided to only go over those which I feel are of the utmost importance. The first is the Level Adjust.

This knob is an important but often misunderstood control on the 3000. It influences the level of discrimination by adjusting the amount of sensitivity to ferrous targets. The Level Adjust also affects auto ground tracking even when the discriminator is turned off.

When fully clockwise there is less likelihood of balancing out a faint deep target. This happens because the ground tracking needs to be paused when hunting using the discriminator. It has been my findings, as well as my colleagues in Australia, that this knob plays a crucial role in locating deep or faint targets.

When turned fully anticlockwise, a weak target is enough to pause (or stop) ground tracking. This is very useful when chasing large nuggets at depth. When turned fully clockwise, the 3000 requires a much stronger signal to pause ground tracking.

This means that a very faint target may be balanced out in Tracking before the operator even hears it. I strongly suggest running this knob between 11 and 12 oclock when the Balance switch is set in the Tracking position. The Level Adjust will not affect the machine when placed in the Fixed position.


The 3000 has a fairly good discriminator; perhaps one of the better Minelab have made. There are two wires inside the cable of a DD coil. One sends information from the control box to the coil then into the ground (Transmit) and the other collects information from the ground and sends it back to the control box (Receive).

Using this ability, the 3000 can analyze information and decide on the conductivity of a given target and give a reasonably accurate indication if it is ferrous or non-ferrous.

Unfortunately the discriminator doesnt match the 3000s performance; this is because a large target is needed to give reliable discrimination. In other words, it works really well on rusted cans and other big iron rubbish, but has no power against smaller ferrous items like boot tacks. When a target is received, try sweeping the coil quickly across the target from side to side; this will give a more reliable discrimination result. Remember, if the signal doesnt blank both ways there is doubt, and the target should be investigated.


I include this feature because of a common misconception that this button is used to set the ground balance. This feature has nothing to do with the balance, but is instead used to combat the effects of external interference and should only be used when really needed.

I strongly advise tuning with the coil in the same position as you would when detecting. Ground balance the detector to the soil your working in at the time, then place the coil on the surface of the ground and depress the tune button and wait for it to cycle. Do not move the coil while this is happening, as any signal picked up will affect the final outcome of the tuning process. When the tuning is completed (signaled by three sharp beeps) and re-ground balance. Do not try to tune out moving objects such as airplanes.


The beauty of this feature is that you can adjust it for loud target noises without affecting smaller ones; this is a very handy feature when gold is buried deep in trashy environments. The volume only acts on the louder target noises, helping to prevent deafening blasts from large shallow objects.

Field Test

In mid September 2003, my father Steve Gholson, our hunting partner Montana Dansie, and myself decided to sit in a truck for 14 hours in order to put the 3000 through its paces on some of the nastiest ground northern Nevada. Our final destination was the famed dry placers surrounding the town of Winnemucca.

The spot we had in mind was as rich in gold as it was noisy ground! The first real problem was an underlying lens of highly mineralized red dirt. As if the iron-rich red dirt was not enough, the soil also contained high levels of salt visible in many places as a threatening white crust. When put together, these two elements formed an all but impenetrable barrier of noise. With the VLF machines this ground was virtually impossible to work, as was it with some of the previous Minelab SD models.

So, just how did the blue wonder from Down Under fare? Like a charm!!! Even in this inhospitable soil, the 3000 ran as smooth as a freshly spun piece of silk. The newest version of the GP was so stable, the three of us were able to swap out the stock 11 DD coils for the much larger diameter Nugget Finder monoloop coils, enabling us to cover more ground and enhance sensitivity towards smaller nuggets. In this part of the country there was little that seemed to upset this detector.

It preformed just as the manufacturer had claimed and netted us a touch over 2 ounces of beautiful yellow nuggets. Most of our gold was found in virgin ground, however all of the larger pieces came from old patches, many of which had been worked for years with VLF machines and more amazingly, with SD2100s!


Before the likes, I will give you my two dislikes. The first is price. At $3,495, this machine carries the highest suggested retail price of any handheld metal detector on the market. The second is size and weight. For as much technology that was put into the inside, a little more could have been spent on the outside. I think the control box could easily be reduced to half its' present size with zero loss in performance.

A reduction in bulkiness would certainly attract those that have grown to love the airy, featherweight feel of their VLF. Okay, now for my likes. The first is depth. One of the things I love best about the 3000, is its ability to achieve incredible depth on a broad spectrum of target sizes.

It cannot only pick out larger nuggets at depth, but it really shines through on those small bits as well. I have been absolutely amazed on more than one occasion when I have dug beyond the 9-10 mark for a measly old-timer boot tack!

Definitely a double thumbs up in this department! The crisp sensitivity of this unit is sure to catch the attention of even the most anti-PI operator on the planet. Using smaller diameter monoloop coils, I have recovered nuggets so tiny they could not even trigger my digital scale! The decision to eliminate the two-piece and o-ring for a solid upper shaft was also a nice touch.

Thanks guys for getting rid of those creaking shafts! Those that are familiar with the GP Extreme will no have trouble becoming familiarized with this newer model. To a brand new user this machine may look scary, but it is in reality one of the easiest gold machines to learn and operate. Once tweaked to an operators particular taste, there are few adjustments that need to be fiddled with out in the field other than the Balance switch.

I have not written this article to sway you. The decision to purchase, or not purchase this product must be based entirely upon your own research. I will however share with you my own personal situation and let you draw your conclusions from there.

As a serious electronic prospector I rely on new technology to give me every advantage possible on the goldfields. As more and more people are getting involved with prospecting a quality machine has never been more important. I choose to use the GP3000 because it excels in the two areas I value most: sensitivity at depth and mineral immunity.

Even if I only gain a half inch more it could mean the difference between hearing that 1-ounce nugget or leaving it behind for someone else. Inevitably something better will come along and I will switch up, but until then I will continue to swing it religiously.

If the 3000 is beyond your financial grasp, do not lose hope of finding gold. There is another quality that I did not mention which is just as important. The quality is persistence, and that my friends lies within the operator, not a metal case. I wish all of you the very best of luck with all your detecting!

For more information Minelabs wide range of products, please visit their website at:, or by phoning (866) 646-3522. They can also be reached by mail at Minelab USA Inc., 2700 E. Patrick Lane # 11, Las Vegas, Nevada 89120.

Field Testing Minelabs Gp3000

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