On our sycamore maple we set value on a tight and straight grain and a high density.
Our A+ grade shafts are graded as follows:
1) Straight grain - we do not allow run-out on any A grade shaft or better.
2) Mineral marks on the surface are kept to a minimum- If there are surface mineral marks or mineral marks on the playing end of the shaft it is downgraded from an A+ to an A grade. If Mineral marks appear after machining it is just the nature of working with wood. When we taper batches of shafts, some are down-graded and others are tossed - it is the nature of the business; expect a 10% average loss as working costs of the material.
3) No pin knots or hard spots
4) Sugar marks are kept at a minimum; not allowable on last 1/3 of playing end.