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Pensa Pensa

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gwreid, May 5, 2005.

  1. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    I was in Rudy's on 48th Street in New York recently, looking for my first real 5 string! The sales guy (Arial I believe his name was.) brought over a Pensa, that they make next door, and it blew me away. Sadowsky, Smadowsky, this Pensa was immaculate and sounded like no bolt-on I've ever tried. I'd love to own one but I hav a problem buying any bolt-on at those prices. I'm sure many will disagree but there just seems to be more craftsmanship put into a neck-thru or set neck (Like my Fodera,) than a bolt on. It's just a hang-up I have and I imagine I might pick up a used Pensa at some point in the future but, being new to this forum, I was wondering what you guys think of bolt-on vs neck-thru pricing? My other thought was, how come there is so little mention of Pensa on this site? Maybe they just haven't made it out of New York. I'm not easily impressed but damn, they impressed me.
  2. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    I've owned 2. Nice basses but Sadowsky puts out a better product with a much better preamp IMO

  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    My guitarist friend knows Rudy personally and gets discounts at the shop. I played one of the Pensas a couple weeks ago and they're phenominal, but personally I like Sads better, just by a bit. My guitarist friend likes Pensa guitars better than Sadowsky though. Just a matter of taste.
  4. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Of course there's more craftmanship on neck-through and set-neck basses but you shouldn't look at the value of an instrument from this perspective only. I'm sure you've seen a lot of crappy neck-through basses as well as amazing bolt-on ones (and viceversa) ... so, if you like the Pensa why don't you buy it? It's really so important the amount of time needed to build one? What does the fact that it's a bolt-on tell us about the manufacturer abilities?
    My personal attitude is <<Mhhh... feels good, sounds better. How much do you want for it, my friend?>> And then, if I can afford it I put my hand in the pocket. If I can't I save. That's all.
    P.S. But I'll check a Sadowsky before buying the Pensa! :D
  5. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    Is the thread creator over 40 years old? The reason I ask is because I am. Because of going through the 1980's when "neck through was better", many 40+ people have that hang up you mentioned. I did but after playing and buying USA Laklands, Mike Lulls and Zons, I don't even pick up my 1985, custom made "hippy sandwhich".

    To me, bolt-on's have more punch and warmth. And the high end ones mentioned above have just as much sustain as the neck throughs.

    Also, I'd take a Lakland, Lull or Sad over a Pensa. I have the previous three. Had a Pensa and sold it for the Lull.
  6. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Yep, I'm over 40 and didn't even have a neck-thru until about 4 years ago. Still have my trusty 72 P Bass which I bought new. It's just when you get to the $3k range you've got to wonder a little. Bolt-ons are really more of an assembly than a woodworking feat. Heck, I could put together (and may) a nice instrument with Warmoth parts and include anyone's electronics for a fraction of the price. It wouldn't of course have a name or resale value and yes, I should add in my time for he labor cost. I know, it is a hang up I need to get over.

  7. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    I dare you to say that to folks like Roger Sadowsky, George Furlanetto, Carey Nordstrand, or Chris Benevente. Your statement is just too general. Sure, you assemble the neck to the body, but what about the incredible attention to detail in each component. For example, you could take a Sadowsky neck and a neck from USG or Warmoth and *immediately* tell the differences in quality and finish. Speaking of finish, have you seen some of the incredibly finished bolt-on bodies the aforementioned folks are putting out?

    Actually, you should try it. I did. I'm convinced that I would never be able to come close to the quality I've received in my Sadowsky.

    The old addage "You get what you pay for..." has never been so true.
  8. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    These threads tend to go nowhere except locked.

    I actually think it would be easier to build a neck through than a bolt-on if you're doing it from scratch. No need to keep sanding out to get a tight neck joint. With a neck through you could really just sandwich everything together and cut and sand down to the desired shape. That, to me, is more tools than skill. I'm not saying that's what luthiers do by any means, (save for Wish). If you're a talentless hack, that's how I would do it.

    That said, I do think the tones of neck through and bolt-on instruments are world's apart.

    Now with that said, I have my VV5 that is getting retro-fitted with a fretless neck by Chris Benavente. He had to build the neck from scratch to make sure it fits the neck-joint's pocket and that the woods work aesthetically. It wasn't a matter of just sending out a different cookie-cutter neck as you're implying. :rolleyes:

    It's due today, BTW! :hyper:
  9. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Just checked the site, wow some of their stuff is beautiful, I really dig the daphne blue, seafoam green and especially the Lake Placid Blueburst models. Love the matching knobs too. Whats the ballbark for one of these?
  10. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Sarge, give them a call for pricing but expect about $3.5k for a five string. They have a 1999 4 string in Gold on their www.rudysmusic.com site for $2,595.

    I know you get what you pay for and the finishes on Sadowskys and Pensas are spectacular but does that really make them handmade? I've seen Warmoth bodies that look just as good. I own a Taylor 814 (High end acoustic guitar.) which is also spectacular but most of that is done with computerized cutters. One could argue that such guitars are considerably more refined/precise than truely handmade guitars and I would probably agree. If the design and materials are good and the machines are well programmed, you've got to have good consistant results. Look at some of the cheap foreign basses around today. They're far superior in build quality to anything I could have bought back in the 70's, Gibsons and Fenders included. I have a Gibson Les Paul from their Custom Shop and the finish really is crap but, it's the real deal with that real Les Paul sound so I sucked it up and layed down the cash.

    Hey, I know Roger gives good product and I wouldn't knock his basses, I may even end up with one because I surely will check them out before purchasing a Pensa. I've been to his workshop when he was still in Manhattan and, while I was impressed at the time, the Pensa just impressed/surprised the hell out of me and I was mainly wondering why they don't seem to get the same awed respect, on this site, that Sadowskys get. And yes, I know you can't really compare a "handmade" Warmoth to these high ends we're talking of but I like to get people talking/thinking about it and see other opinions.
  11. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I completely agree (and I'm only 37 :) )

    I had a few neck-thru over the years and came to the conclusion that a bolt neck works better for me in the late 90s
  12. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    Oh and GW, I'm surprised they let you play anything in there... Most of TB has had a dissimilar experience with Rudy's. Myself included.
  13. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Sorry Big, I don't understand... Are you saying Rudy's didn't let you try the basses?

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Every pensa i picked up just didint seem to have any life or magic to them and these were all basses they had instock.Their is 2 things that turned me off to Pensa and the sales people 1. When i was checking out the Hofners i was asked what kind of basses i was playing so i told him Sadowsky is my main axe then the sales rep handed me a pensa and said these were better check it out and i told him right out that Sadowsky sounded and felt much better to me.2 After this he proceeded to tell me that USA Custom makes the same parts for Sadowsky as Pensa and i new he was full of BS because that simple is not true and he was just trying to win me over to buy a bass that i commented that had a nice top but didint feel as good or sound as great as my Sadowsky.I just saw alot of unprofessional behavior in a supposed high end bass maker shop.
  15. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    Click on the "Most of TB" link highlighted in blue in my previous post. You'll get my and others' most recent experiences with Rudy's. I've been in there twice without good results. Nest time I'm in the city with some spare time, I'm going to schedule to meet with Roger Sadowsky or the guys at Aguilar... :scowl:

    EDIT: They did write me a response to my email complaint but when I saw that poor customer service is an epidemic there when it comes to the third floor, I didn't want an apologetic call from Rudy or a percentage off or anything. I would have much rather had the two hours of my life back on my last overnight to NYC to reschedule something more worthwhile bass-wise... :meh:
  16. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I haven't been there since 93-94 but I use to hang and play stuff @ Rudy's all the time (bought a little too). They even pulled stuff out / rewired stuff for me to A/B rigs one of my last visits.

    It was always my first stop on 48th
  17. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    I have found Rudy's a little intimidating, as I do with most high-end stores simply because I always imagine everyone else can play better than me but I've never had problems with the staff. The best guy is in the acoustic area, very knowledgable and helpful, Gordon I think. I also found Ariel, in the bass shop, to be helpful. I have experienced the locked door upstairs but understand why, the place is never crowded and I typiclly go there on a lunch break. I noticed a lot of 48th street stores mentioned in that link... did you guys know that Manny's is owned by Sam Ashe? It is.
  18. mgmadian


    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I think they're good basses, but have to give the nod to the Sadowsky's that I've played, incl my Tokyo RB5. I still have a great outboard pre that John Suhr made to go along with my '71 Jazz I picked up from Rudy's about 15 yrs ago.

    Rudy's is my all-time favorite music store... if Dean Moody is still there, he's a good guy to work with.
  19. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    'On the bolt on thing I'll have to disagree and give you two words:

    MTD (well, it's not a word but...)


    Give mike Tobias a call. ;)

  20. Yeah, and any guitar player can play bass. Heck in most cases it has less strings so it must be eaiser! Only one note at a time and stuff..........
    BTW, a set neck is just a bolt-on with a different mechnical joint -glue. The same applies that the recieving end (neck pocket) better be cut correctly or trouble awaits.
    Or just buy the Carvin neck thru blank (it's the neck & center portion of the body from a neck thru) and glue up some wings. That must be better than a bolt-on ;)
    Warmoth will make one too, and I heard that that is where Pedulla gets their neck thru blanks from.

    Take a look at an F Bass BNF or AC models. Bolt-ons that are works of art in the neck joint.
    I like Sadowsky's, but I played a Pensa 5 last year at a guitar show, it was screamin' sweet.

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