These Are the Best Metal Detector Settings for Gold

It’s every metal detector enthusiast’s dream to find some sort of treasure while they’re out adventuring, and one of the most exciting materials to come across is gold. Detecting gold can be a challenge, but there are things you can do to improve your chances. 

The best metal detector settings for gold are all-metal or prospecting mode with a high frequency. The combination of these settings allows the detector to sense the gold through electronic waves.   

In this article, I’ll explain in great detail what settings you should use on your metal detector to find gold. I’ll also provide some additional tips for detecting gold, so you can find a great treasure next time you’re out and about with your detector. 

How To Optimize Your Metal Detector To Find Gold 

You can optimize your metal detector to find gold by using the all-metal mode with high frequency. Some metal detectors have a prospecting mode that is specifically for finding gold. 

One of the best things about metal detectors is that they have settings you can customize to increase your chances of success. You can alter these settings if you’re searching for gold. 

You should put the metal detector in the all-metal mode for the best chances of success. The all-metal mode can sense objects buried deeper in the ground, including gold objects. Additionally, in the all-metal mode, you can adjust the tones to determine if an object is gold or iron without having to dig it up by allowing the device to examine the object’s properties and determine if it contains a composition consistent with gold or not.   

Some metal detectors have a “prospecting” mode specifically for finding gold. This mode can detect more extreme ground conditions, including black sand, which is often where large concentrations of gold are located.   

Another setting you can adjust to increase your chances of finding gold is the frequency. The frequency is the number of electronic waves the metal detector sends into the ground through the search coil to see if there is anything underneath. 

Typical metal detectors work best with frequencies ranging from 5 kHz to 15 kHz. However, if you can increase the frequency from 17 kHz to 70 or more kHz, the metal detector will pick up on more gold items that are further underground. 

By adjusting these settings, you can increase the effectiveness and functionality of your metal detector and increase your odds of striking gold.  

Tips for Metal Detecting Gold 

Adjusting your settings is a great place to start if you’re committed to finding gold with your metal detector, but it isn’t the only thing you can do. Here are my top tips for finding gold: 

  • Do your research. Some areas are more likely to have gold than others. Before you head out, take some time and research which areas near you have placer deposits or have a history of gold discoveries. You’re most likely to find gold in or near a river. 
  • Purchase a high-quality metal detector. Buying an advanced metal detector can be a good investment as cheaper, very low-frequency detectors occasionally struggle in highly mineralized soil, so they might not detect what’s underground.
  • Metal is detected in areas with gold indicators. After you’ve done some research and you head out into nature, you can keep an eye out for some geological hints that there is gold nearby. These features include quartz veins, shear zones, and black sand. 
  • Go at a good time. It’s always best to avoid too much direct sunlight while metal detecting to protect your eyes and skin. In addition, I don’t recommend looking for gold in cold weather conditions for comfort and because the hard ground will be difficult to dig up. I recommend looking for gold after heavy rainfall, which can wash away debris and reveal new fertile areas, especially when water levels are low. 
  • Keep an eye out for changes in soil color. A change in soil color may indicate that the site is a contact zone, which is evidence of an old iron intrusion. Iron intrusions are good locations to search for gold, especially if you notice black or red sand. 
  • Use high-quality headphones when you metal detect. Using headphones makes it easier for you to hear your metal detector, which increases your odds of hearing a target and successfully digging it up and identifying it as gold. Some headphones don’t have great sound quality, which can make metal detecting pretty frustrating. It’s best to invest in a high-quality pair from the get-go.   
  • Join a metal detecting club. Fellow metal detectors are likely to know where in your area is best for finding gold, and they might even offer some tips and tricks for finding it! You can also find a metal-detecting buddy by joining a club that can accompany you on your next journey out. 
  • Carry extra batteries. One of the worst scenarios when metal detecting is getting close to a discovery only to run out of batteries. This is especially true if you’re looking for gold, as you might be in a more remote area. To avoid this frustration, bring extra batteries along with you. I recommend my comprehensive guide on batteries and metal detectors where I also provide a few tips on how to increase your battery life: Do Metal Detectors Need Batteries?
  • Give iffy signals a chance. Some signals may seem like a false lead, but some metal detectors struggle in highly mineralized soil where you’re likely to find gold, so they might give off more and less distinct signals than usual. If this happens, I recommend digging and finding out what lies beneath instead of abandoning the signal.  

Following these tips and adjusting your metal detector settings can greatly increase your chances of finding gold. 

The Best Places To Find Gold in the United States  

One of the best things you can do to find gold is to look in the right place. Here are the states in the United States that have placer deposits, areas with a high concentration of natural material. It is in these deposits that you’re most likely to find gold. 

  • California 
  • Alaska
  • Montana 
  • Idaho 
  • Colorado 
  • Oregon 
  • South Dakota 
  • Washington 
  • Nevada 
  • Arizona 
  • New Mexico 

Of these states, Nevada is the top state in the United States for finding gold, followed by Alaska, Colorado, and California.  

You’re most likely to find placer deposits in or near rivers and streams in these states. You’re welcome to try to find gold in other areas, but you might not be as successful.  

If you get lucky and find some gold and want to know how to clean it, I suggest my article on how to clean the items you discover on your metal detecting adventures: How to Clean Metal Detecting Finds (Ultimate Guide) 

Final Thoughts 

If your goal is to find gold with your metal detector, you’ll need to do everything possible to increase your odds of finding these objects. Luckily, you can adjust the metal detector settings to increase your detector’s effectiveness.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to tips on finding and collecting precious items. Inspired by reading countless adventurer reports from the oldtimers, Alex is passionate about discovering hidden treasures and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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