The price difference between mediocre stones and good ones is small, and hard composition stones are easier to learn on.
You should be
I really like lasery knives for hard squash. A few years back I had to cut a couple of gallons of 2" batons of butternut squash to pickle every
With his bare hands.
Don't care. Carbon or stainless, and then it's up to the maker.
On a side note, the consistently best overall service I've ever experienced is here, where 'no tipping' is the norm.