Rudy Pensa was born in a small suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of seven he asked his father to buy him a guitar. Rudy took to the instrument immediately and it has remained his lifelong passion. At age 11, he was introduced to the electric guitar and upon hearing the Beatles he dedicated himself to rock music. In 1976, as a member of a three-piece band with Ricardo Soule and Alex Pensa, they recorded the hit album Vuelta a Casa under RCA’s label.
During one of his trips to the U.S., Rudy met Francesca who would later become his wife. Together, in 1978, they opened Rudy’s Music Shop on 48th Street in New York City. In 1982, Rudy built the “R Custom” — the very first Pensa Guitar. Today, Pensa Guitars and Pensa Bass Guitars are known and venerated worldwide.
In 2009, Rudy and Francesca opened a shop on Broome Street in Soho. They chose the location primarily for its historical connection to archtop guitars: D’Angelico’s workshop was a few blocks away on Kenmare Street. As Rudy put it, “When we came to Soho, I knew that these special guitars were coming home.” Most recently Rudy opened a second store in Scarsdale, Westchester County, NY which is closer to his home.
In the world of archtops, Rudy remembers that his first real encounter with one was in 1976. It was a D’Angelico, which immediately reminded him of his father’s cello. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it. Through the years he has invested a great deal of time and attention to learning everything he could about these instruments as well as their makers, from famed luthiers of the past to the ever-growing repertoire of modern-day custom builders. In 2011 he published his incredible book, “Archtop Guitars: The Journey from Cremona to New York”, which led to his success as curator of the historic first-ever archtop exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Rudy has garnered a world-wide reputation as a trusted and true archtop connoisseur.