Pensa Custom Guitars

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Pensa Custom Guitars is an American company that manufactures electric guitars and basses in handmade fashion. The company is based in New York City. Pensa Custom Guitars was founded by Argentine businessman Rudy Pensa.


Mark Knopfler playing his custom Pensa MK-2 on tour at the NAC in Ottawa
Mark Knopfler with his Pensa MK-90 blue guitar live at Le Zénith June 02nd 2015

In 1980, Mark Knopfler and Rudy Pensa met, and together with John Suhr created the Pensa-Suhr "MK". This model served as a basis for a series of Pensa-branded handmade guitars still available from the company: the MK1 (bound mahogany body and neck with a 22-fret Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and carved quilted maple top, Floyd Rose locking tremolo, Sperzel locking tuners, black headstock, gold hardware and an active EMG pickup set with an 89 humbucking bridge pickup and two SA single-coils, master volume and master tone with switchable pull-out "presence control" mid-boost circuit); MK2 (three Lindy Fralin Blues single-coils, stop tailpiece); and MK80 (three Seymour Duncan Classic Stacks, birdseye maple fingerboard, Gotoh vintage bridge).

According to the company's website, the first electric guitar created by Rudy Pensa and John Suhr was called the "R Custom", built in 1984. Pensa and Suhr built instruments together under the brand name Pensa-Suhr. The two parted ways in March 1990 when Suhr 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. The name Suhr was dropped from the brand name after 1 year for guitars subsequently built under Pensa's stewardship.

Notable Pensa Custom players[edit]

Current products[edit]

  • MK1
  • MK2
  • MK80
  • 4-String bass
  • 5-String bass
  • (Guitars are also available on a build-to-order basis, based around an order form available from the Pensa Custom Guitars website).[2]


  1. ^ Scott Isler, Musician Magazine, August 1987: p.70
  2. ^ Pensa Custom Guitars official website

External links[edit]

  • Rudy Pensa NAMM Oral History Program Interview (2008)