Now comes the part that has me baffled. Getting them all nice and geared.
Well, ask yourself this: what PVE endgame are you going to ACTUALLY do?
Level 66/69 gear is completely sufficient for the dailies in any zone, the 55 HM FPs, and SM operations.
So, unless you are going to do HM operations (or further on, NiM operations), you don't NEED anything else.
But, by doing HM FPs and the SM operations, you will get Elite comms, which can buy the Verpine-flavour of level 72 gear, and Ultimate comms, which can buy you the Oricronian (spell check!)-flavour of level 78 gear. (Mainhand weapons are a different story, by the way. The best, if I recall correctly, is comm-bought level 69 main hand. Though you can buy a level 72 hilt/barrel off the GTN and use Elite comms to buy gloves [the cheapest item at 100 comms that has all 3 mods] for a mod and enhancement. Or buy those off the GTN too.) You can also buy up to level 72 gear on the GTN. (The top tier of gear [78 at present] is never craftable).
8-man SM operations will also drop Arkanian (level 69) gear and the later bosses of the newer 16-man SM operations will also drop Underworld (level 72) gear. These have the 'set bonuses,' which depending on your class and role, may be quite good.
So, really, it's up to what you are going to do to determine what gear you need - anything past that is gravy and your own min/maxing.