Matt is a 2 time super billiards expo pro am champion, 8 time Mezz tour player of the year, Maryland 9 ball and 8 ball state champion, New Jersey 9 ball and 8ball state champion, and former UPA pro tour rookie of the year.
Have you inspected the rails, do you have access to them? If so, apply a consistant pressure down the length of each rail with your fingers to see if you notice any soft or hard spots. Also inspect the rubber to see if it is still firmly attached to the rails and there are no loose areas.
So your statement:
"I'm willing to bet most players don't know what their preferred ratio is, or the weight ratio of their playing cue is."
Is not true, and if it is that most don't know what their preferred ratio is, would they not care?
I am speaking for myself and everyone I have worked with.
I have CF shafts from several small time makers. They are smooth as silk. To the OP how exactly are you taking care of them?
I got the wipe part but are you doing anything else?
BTW to clean mine I use simple 70% alcohol pads that are used to clean and prep an area for a needle shot.