Apologies all for the intrusion by a complete novice. I have a simple .jpg image, see below. All I want is the instrument itself, without the black background. Essentially, the instrument, as an independent object, on a transparent background. I’ve no knowledge of layers, paths, or anything much. All I’ve managed to do is “trace” it and then “expand” (which i can select/copy/paste in a new document) but that gives me a very low-res version of the instrument – not an exact copy without the black. Any thoughts?
Use the pen tool to trace around the instrument. In the layer panel ensure the path is higher than the instrument. Then select both on your page and do Object > Clipping Mask > Make
Then export the result to a format that supports transparency.