I'm finding myself building more and more WP sites "from scratch" as it were (ie: ignoring any theme designs out there and just creating a design wireframe purely on the needs of the client. Then I go out and either shop around a theme that has the right basic structure, or I start with TwentyTen and fork a child theme from there.
Recently I've been getting the advice that maybe TwentyTen is not the best place to start as a base / parent theme because it's been stuffed with every technique possible in order to be a good learning platform. But maybe it's not the easiest or most efficient to customize (it has individual template.php pages for almost every part of the template hierarchy AND it has every template-part.php imaginable.
And using existing themes (whether free themes, or themes from services like ThemeForest) is a bit of a crap-shoot - in terms of coding standards, usage of templates, template-parts or hooks, incompatibilities, etc etc. So that's not ideal either.
Ideally, I'd like to whittle my starting choices to a small handful of really well-built, highly versatile, extremely barebones (light on design) themes that I could fork child themes from and adapt to my wireframe and design specs.
Getting to the question
What are your favourite barebones themes for forking off child themes? Why do you like them?
thanks so much for your advice!