Considering the way most people cook, the best basic set is:
1. Chef's knife in the 8" - 11" range. A longer knife works better with better skills. If you're comfortable with a pinch grip, get a 10" knife. If you're wife wants something shorter, get her her own. If you're not comfortable with a pinch grip, or have never heard of it, and don't care enough about knife skills to find out about it right away -- stick with the 8" as a good start. It's not a compromise, it's the right knife for now.
2. "Petty." You've probably never heard of a petty. From a profile (blade shape) standpoint, it's a short slicing knife. From a use standpoint, it's a cross between a medium length utility and a shorter parer; roughly the longest knife you feel comfortable with holding the blade still, and moving the prodcut; the knife you'll use for nearly all your point work. The longer your chef's knife, the longer the petty you'll need (and want). If you use a 10" chef's, you'll want a 6" petty. Your petty will double as your paring knife unless you do a lot of paring, need a short knife with a specific profile for decorative work, or your wife likes something short. You can get good, short paring knives for very little money -- under $10, even. Because they're so cheap, it's worth getting a 5" or 6" petty and adding a parer as a separate knife to the basic set if you want something shorter.
3. Slicer. I suppose this is what you mean by "sashimi" knife. They're really isnt's such a thing a sashimi knife. The traditional Japanese knives for sashimi are the yanigaba, takobiki and fugubiki. The Japanese name for the traditional European slicer profile, "sujibiki." It's a more versatile profile than any of the specific "for fish" slicers; and sujis are usually made to stand up to rougher use. When you start making a living with fish or kitchen knives become a passion -- that's the time to think about a sashimi knife. In the meantime, a good 9" - 11" slicer will do the trick.
4. Bread. If you cut a lot of crusty bread you need a bread knife. Crust is very tough on smooth edges; without a bread knife you'll be sharpening constantly. Bread knives are also much better for other routine baking tasks like splitting cake (you'll get a "cake knife and cake server" as a wedding gift, separately and inevitability). You'll find yourself sharpening the bread knife about once every five years. So, not to worry. There is a "best" bread knife; and that's the 10-1/2" MAC. It's on the high-end of reasonably priced, but worth it. If you don't want to spend the money on a MAC try a Forschner Rosewood.
The problem is exaggerated. In any case, Globals come with a lifetime guarantee and a huge dealership network. If a knife fails, it's easy to get it replaced. A
s it happens I like Global although I don't own any. Global and Shun are the most available Japanese knives, but they are not the best. There are (a) better knives for less money; (b) much better knives for the same money; and regarding Global in particular (c) almost everyone who uses a Global chef as his or her primary knife becomes disenchanted with the handle and complains of slipping and/or pain.
On the other hand, Globals are extremely agile and a pleasure to point. They sharpen and retain their edge fairly well; and can be effectively steeled to help maintain the edge -- something that's important to me.
Brands I recommend over Global include Togiharu, Kanematsu, MAC, Sakai Takayuki, Hiromoto, and Misono, to name a few. On a personal note, I own a lot of knives but my entire working set is made up of antique (or at least very old) Sabatier carbons. They're great for me, but need love. I don't suggest them to many who aren't already interested in carbon; and certainly not an entire set.
If you remember this response for one thing, the best recommendation I can make is to plan how you'll sharpen and maintain your knives before investing in expensive blades. No matter how good a knife is when it's sharp, all dull knives are equal. All knives dull eventually; some slower than others; but they all need sharpening. If you cook a lot, even the longest wearing edge on a chef's knife will need to be sharpened three or four times a year. No matter what anyone says, you cannot get a good edge on a "sharpening rod" or "sharpeneing steel." You can't get a good one with a "roll sharp," "pull through" or any of the carbide steel "V" sharpeners either. While a few of them will produce an adequate edge, most are blade destroyers. Ceramic "V" sticks like the Spyderco Sharpmaker, the Idahone, and the Lansky Crock Stick, are helpful in maintaining an edge, but are way too slow for effective sharpening once the edge actually wears.
The good alternatives are freehand sharpening on an appropriate stone set; a rod-guide system; or whichever Chef's Choice machines have appropriate angles for your knives. We can discuss whichever alternative, good or bad, interests you; but I'm not going to post a 30 page chapter on knive maintenance here.
A fine honing "steel" or "rod" is a fast and useful way to keep most edges going for a long time; but for many reasons their coarser and/or diamond impreganted bretheren do not make good sharpeners -- with the exception of a few knife shapes.
That's what we call a "false dichotomy." Let's just let it die a quiet death.
I suppose it might be possible if you did everything wrong; but you'd have to struggle to make it an issue -- something some people do. If you remove the knife from the bar by beginning with a sliding motion you won't put strain where the tang joins the blade. A mag bar is not as good as an appropriate block (I have and use both). Avoid the racks with visible bars and get one with "super-conducting" mounted beneath the surface of the wood (or whatever). They hold better, look better, and will keep your knives from getting stained. No drawbacks.
Welcome to the madhouse.
Hope this helps,