A cheap solution in order to get experience is rolling in dauntless-squads. LaC has had very successful results from what I've heard in getting some experience within their ranks, and it is a very cheap way to acquire such a priceless goods.
If you have the dubloons to spare;
2x Runners Rigs (if not, two speed rigs will suffice)
2x accuracy gun rigs 3 (one acc and one wadding for the Priv is my suggestion)
1x armor planking 3, 1x reinforced hull 3
For PB's, the preferred ships is ALWAYS macedon/reason when 4th rates are called. wenden or valiant when 3d rates are called for NO's.
Freetrader is the Heavy Herc, alternatively the Mont Blanc or Couronne MC for colossal battles.
Privateer: HMC for skirmish group (Hercules sleek in emergency situations) or a heavy hercules for the line (poseidon works, if you master to manouver it well)
Outfittings for colossals:
2x Colossal runners rigs.
2x colossal accuracy gun rigs 2
1x colossal heavy flanked armour, 1x Colossal reinforced hull 2
fourth rates and frigates for PB:
2x huge runners rigs
2x accuracy gun rigs 3
2x huge heavy flanked
for generals, I usually have 1x prototype cannons 3, 1x discordant reinforcements 3, 1x teak armor 1st rate for the NO and FT. for privateers in the skirmish group: 1x prototype~, 1x engineered structure 5, 1x discordant reinforcements 3. for the line: 1x resilient gun ports 5, 1 discordant~, 1 teak armour 1st rate.
there's alot of "science" around the fittings topic, but I think what I've described up here is somewhat the norm. I'll see if I can find somene to translate it aswell. :)