Rudy's first experience as a guitar builder was actually an experiment when, at the age of thirteen, he attempted to build a 12-string guitar using the broken necks of two 6-string guitars. In 1974, on his first visit to New York, Rudy went directly from JFK airport with suitcase in tow to the world-renowned shrine of musical instruments…48th Street. He long dreamed of visiting this place where musicians congregated to buy, sell, browse and dream. You might even have run into one or more of your idols there.
Rudy opened "Rudy's Music Stop" on 48th Street in New York City in 1978 and began turning his passions into tangible artistry. It wasn't long before "Rudy's Music" became a well-known and highly-respected guitar shop to guitarists around the world. Rudy's love and enthusiasm for what he does is contagious, and his long list of regular customers still grows.
The earliest "Pensa" electric guitar was called the "R Custom". He built the first one in 1982 and sold many in his shop. It was in 1985 that Rudy, collaborating with his then employee, John Suhr, began building many amazing instruments that are considered classics today.
Rudy met Mark Knopfler in the 1980s during the height of Dire Straits fame. They shared the same passion for the guitar and formed a friendship that would endure for many years. In 1987, Rudy and Mark sat down and over a cup of coffee and drew the blueprints on a napkin for what would become one of the most sought-after custom-made guitars in the world: the Pensa "MK". In 2000, Rudy and Mark teamed up again to design the "Pensa MK2", which rapidly gained momentum worldwide.
Through the years, other Pensa models have emerged including the introduction of Pensa 4-String and 5-String basses, the Pensa "Classic" and "Junior" electric guitars with many endorsers, including Victor Bailey. Numerous studio musicians and professionals all over the world from Mark Knopfler to Lou Reed to Eric Clapton, to mention a few, play Pensa guitars. (Please visit our "Pensa Players" page to see who is playing Pensa Guitars and Basses!)
Rudy's stellar reputation as a guitar builder, shopkeeper and gentleman is well deserved. Every person who walks in the door of "Rudy's Music Stop" is treated with the same respect, whether they are a platinum selling artist, a Wall Street banker or a kid with a dream. Rudy makes no distinction in the service and quality he provides for his customers. The energy and passion for the Pensa instruments he creates is fueled by the earliest visions of Rudy Pensa and his love of the art.