Gator's chart confirms what the guy from giant cypress says - white #1 is made by adding additional carbon to white #2. Otherwise everything else looks the same.
Here's where I'm at:
I'm playing catch-up with you guys and what you know, so I'm trying to learn what steels have what potential characteristics, what makers are making with which steels, and separate fact from fiction.
I agree that the maker and how he treats the steel and crafts the knife is more important than the steel itself.
I believe that any reasonably well-crafted Japanese knife made of any quality carbon or stainless steel can get more than sharp enough for any home or commercial kitchen use. What is important to me re: steel is edge retention. I'll take a more difficult steel to sharpen if it holds that edge longer. But what's more important than that is the design and fabrication of the knife.
In my experience so far:
So far my favorite steels are AS and SG2 - I find they have similar character. But my favorite knife at the moment is my Yusuke white #2 270 gyuto because it's a laser, cuts well, and is a well made knife. I'll change my mind in a week or month or two...
- white #2 is stupid easy to get stupid sharp, but doesn't stay stupid sharp for very long; chips easily.
- VG-10 is also easy to get very sharp but looses it's sharpness quickly, but then maintains a medium level of keenness for a good period of use; no chipping issues so far for me.
- AS is difficult for me to get stupid sharp, but holds whatever edge I can get it to very well; chips more easily than I expected.
- SG2 is a very good balance of ease of sharpening, attainable sharpness and excellent edge retention; no chipping issues so far.