The Story Behind Pensa Guitars

The Story Behind Pensa Guitars

Mark Knopfler with Pensa Guitar MK1.

Pensa Guitars is an American company for electric, acoustic and bass guitars. The company is based in New York City and was founded by Argentine businessman Rudy Pensa. The first “Rudy’s Music Shop” was opened on 48th Street in New York City in 1978. It wasn’t long before it became a well-known and highly-respected guitar shop for guitarists around the world.

But the story behind Pensa Guitars is also connected with Mark Knopfler. Back in 1980 Mark and Rudy Pensa met together with John Suhr the creators of Pensa Suhr “MK”. That model served as a base for a series of Pensa-branded handmade guitars still available from the company.

Rudy Pensa.

The first electric guitar created by Rudy Pensa and John Suhr was called the “R Custom”. He built the first one in 1982 and sold many in his shop. In 1985 Rudy collaborating with his then employee, John Suhr, began creating many amazing instruments that are considered classics today.

Pensa and Suhr created and built instruments together under one brand name “Pensa-Suhr”. The two parted ways in March 1990 when Suhr decided to left Pensa’s workshops to work for Fender as a Senior Master Builder at the Californian company’s Custom Shop and established JS Technologies Inc. with partner Steve Smith in 1997. After that, one year later the name Suhr was dropped from the brand name under Pensa’s stewardship.

Rudy met Mark Knopfler in the ’80s during the height of Dire Straits fame. They shared the same passion for the guitars and formed a friendship that would endure for many years. In 1987 they sat down at one small coffee shop called “Prince’s” in New York. They discussed a possible project – a guitar that would be a sort of a crossover between Stratocaster and Les Paul. They agreed on the details and drew the first sketch of that guitar. The Pensa “MK” was finished in early 1988 and it was completely built by John Suhr who worked at Pensa music shop at the time.

Mark Knopfler in 1993 with Pensa Guitar MK1.

John used mahogany as a basis for the body, one-piece carved maple as a top, and Brazilian rosewood as a fretboard material. In 2000, Rudy and Mark teamed up again to design the “Pensa MK2”, which rapidly gained momentum worldwide.

Mark with Pensa MK2.

Numerous studio musicians and professionals all over the world like Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Peter Frampton, Vlatko Stefanovski, Lenny Kravitz, Victor Bailey, Christian McBride, Pino Daniele, and many others musicians play Pensa guitars.

Every person who walks through the door of “Rudy’s Music Shop” is treated with the same respect. Rudy makes no distinction in the service and quality he provides for his customers. The energy and passion for the Pensa instruments he creates are fueled by the earliest visions of Rudy Pensa and his love of the art.

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