Graphite shaft from Japan and Taiwan compared
We have often dealt with shafts of different quality and we have to make one thing clear at this point: There are so-called original shafts and OEM shafts on the market. The latter is what larger manufacturers install in practically every club. They are inexpensive, mostly made in China and have little in common with the original shaft except for the name and appearance. This is unfortunately the reality. Original shafts, on the other hand, actually come from the manufacturer's factory and are not produced in another factory as OEM shafts usually are. The differences in quality cannot be denied and are objectively measurable.
However, there are also manufacturers who have different locations of their factories, such as Oban. Oban is actually a very traditional Japanese manufacturer who also produces shafts in Taiwan. These days, Taiwan is a location that is used by many manufacturers, also for the production of club heads. But how does the comparison between a shaft actually made in Japan look like? We want to get to the bottom of this question and compare the Oban Devotion HB 0355 from Taiwan and the Oban Kiyoshi HB 0355 from Japan. The price difference is already significant: the Kiyoshi costs almost twice as much. And you should always keep this aspect in mind.
Our test was very simple: the player tested both shafts with the identical driver head. The profile of the shafts is practically identical, as is the weight and the swing weight. So the only factor that varies is the "shaft quality".
Which was quickly noticed: Our test player felt much more comfortable with the Kiyoshi. This is also reflected in the higher efficiency of 1.41 vs. 1.43. The clubhead speed was the same as the swing path and attack angle. Differences only become apparent in the ball data:
The 2 miles more ball speed can be explained by the better strike pattern alone. The launch is significantly lower with 11.0° vs. 13.1° for the Kiyoshi - just like the spin. Interestingly, the Side Angle of the Kiyoshi shows no deviation to the left or right. The player had much more control with the Kiyoshi and could show a very straight trajectory.
Just from the data, the significant surcharge could not be justified. After all, the stroke lengths were practically the same. The reason for this is that the Kiyoshi was far from optimal: 11° launch is just too flat for a driver, but the low spin is desirable. For example, if we were to change the driver loft slightly upwards, the Kiyoshi would not only allow for much longer shots, but the precision and control would hardly change. In short, the Kiyoshi would give our player a shaft that he hits very consistently, has little dispersion and flies much further - which is mainly due to the higher ball speed and lower spin.
Only for very few players the price is no object at all. Most players must at least consider whether a certain surcharge is justified. It is not possible to answer this question for every player. But what this test confirms: in terms of quality, the origin of a shaft definitely plays a role. And even if shafts of slightly inferior quality are produced in Taiwan, you can still notice the difference to a shaft made in Japan. These differences are also noticeable for a player and not just measurable with any machine.