Knowing a little about the previous owner of a guitar before you buy it for your vintage guitar collection is always a good idea. While you may want to ask questions about what damage and repairs the guitar has been through, another topic that you should cover is whether the owner is or was a smoker. If the guitar had multiple owners, you obviously won't be able to talk to each owner about this topic. However, if the current owner has owned the instrument for an extended period of time, smoking will be something that influences how you proceed. Here are some reasons that you should try to buy vintage guitars from non-smokers.
One of the reasons that you'll want to avoid buying vintage instruments from smokers is that they often smell. Wood is a porous material, and unless the body of the guitar is covered in a polyurethane finish that essentially forms a hard layer over the wood, being in a smoky environment will cause the wood to absorb the smell of smoke. It can be extremely difficult to get this smell out. Sometimes, it may be necessary to refinish the guitar, which is something that you don't want to do with a vintage instrument because of how it can affect the value.
Being in a constantly smoky environment can also cause visual changes to the paint of the guitar. This is especially true if the guitar is of a light color. For example, if you're looking at buying an electric guitar that has original white paint on it, the paint may have yellowed. While yellowing can occur simply because of time passing, it's more apt to occur when the instrument is in a smoky environment. If you want to buy vintage guitars that look their best, this fading may be problematic for you.
Another problem that you might encounter when you buy a guitar that a smoker has owned is that the case will be highly unappealing because of its smell. It's one thing for the guitar to smell, but you'll often find that the case smells much stronger than the instrument. This is because the interior of guitar cases is commonly covered in a thick, plush fabric. It protects the instrument, but also absorbs the smells around it — including smoke. When you're able to buy a guitar from a non-smoker, you'll thankfully avoid these problems.