Preppy, I am sort of a newb at sorting out my baking... am in my early 60's and learned from my Italian Grandma... but just got back into it full steam after retiring for the 2nd time...
Here is what I can tell you:
I started with a bare oven and a cookie sheet. Pie was "great" ... well because I made it from Grandma's recipe... but then I went in search of other styles... Crispy Cracker Crust, NY style, Chicago thin... each different, but all Pizza's. I started to "dither" with my oven. Bought a cheap $10 pizza stone. Made things better, a bit. More skin crispiness and a bit more dewatering of soggy toppings. Then I learned to max out the oven at 550 deg. Pizza better, and the stone shattered twice.
There abouts I had the privilege to take my ingredients and bake 3 pies in Walter's commercial Blodgett 1000 ovens. One ran around 460 deg F and the other perhaps in the 600's (I think.) I was BLOWN away. All those pizzas were the best I ever made. I went home, and for 2 months now have been trying to reproduce those results.
I have gone to a thick cordierite stone from Old Stone Ovens. It does not have to be babbied, and made a huge jump upwards for my bread and pizza baking. Crusts got crispier, toppings dewatered, more thermal mass in the oven. I have it about mid way up in my oven.
The next step that helped came from my bread baking quest. I put a 8 x 10 inch tray on the bottom rack filled with new barbecue lava rocks. In my bread baking I pour 4 oz of hot water on them at the beginning of the bake cycle to create oven steam. For pizza I just leave them in the oven. With a good preheat, they give more thermal mass to my oven and again make the baking better.
My next steps are to re-engineer our (read wifey's) GE oven to defeat the lock on the clean cycle, so I can cook on the clean cycle. I also looked at snagging a Blodgett 1000 oven and putting it in the garage...
My wife is starting to have a real hard time with me and wants me to find more clients and get back to, as she said, "real work..."
I tried to explain to her, that after visiting two operating pizza/bakeries (Walter's and Larry's) that those guys work harder in a day than I ever did in a week!
Bottom line suggestion: Drop the 40 or 50 bucks and get a good Cordierite stone... leave it in your oven... you will never look back!
Good luck on your journey.