If you don't already have one I'd look real hard at a VG10 Delica
Good call! I was going to suggest Kershaw. I have a fatback (fat back?) made by Kershaw that I have been practicing on. I started free hand, got a KME, and now am trying free hand again. I found the KME helped me in a lot of ways to keep still while on a stone or on the sharpmaker.
This. To learn you need an easy steel but not crap. Crap steel will usually burr heavily, or won’t take an edge.