I am of the belief that if you are starting out you just cannot go wrong with a couple of good cobs and a forever stem. While exploring the vagaries of various tobaccos and finding your niche it is a good time to start reading and asking others what a good briar pipe for your uses might be There are a lot of very good pipe makers out there and you might well be ahead of the game to pick out a couple of good handmades from the likes of Mark Tinsky or Rad Davis. You see estates on sale from time to time that are quite reasonable in price.
Many dedicate a pipe to one tobacco, I think that staying in the same genre until you have nailed your technique down and have a confirmed rotation is probably your best bet. Even though cobs don't ghost, I pretty much treat them the same way. I have about 10 cobs that get various usage. And while a great many others might dispute this, I think that briar and burley were born for one another. Sugar Barrel in a Diplomat is simply right.
By the way, when you clean the stem of your pipe with alcohol try not to get it on the outside of the stem, but if you do you can restore the gloss with a little olive oil. When you clean the shank with alcohol wad up a paper towel and stuff it in the bowl to keep from soaking the cake too badly. Let the pipe sit for about 24 hours afterwards to let it dry out well.