when i started everybody ran 10 frame double deeps with queens raised by a handful of big time queen rearing operations and half of those were started with stock from one of the other guys. and at that time that worked.
now the best bet is to find local survivor stock. in the south you'll most likely find that stock to be italian-carni mutts.
as you get into this money pit of a hobby you'll find that you have almost no choice but grow with it. after one season you should know who your performers are and those are the bees you want to raise your next generation of queens from.
as far as equipment goes i run 10 frame and 5 frame. the bigger choice will be whether you run deeps or all mediums, the difference in lifting a full deep vs a full medium is greater than between 8 or 10 frames.