Show Us Your Space: The Closet Studios

Welcome to the latest installment of our Show Us Your Space series, in which we ask musicians and producers to share their recording studios and other music-making environments. Earlier this month, we had an inside look at the hallowed, Jimi Hendrix-designed Electric Lady Studios in New York. Today, we're featuring The Closet Studios—a less historic, but still inspiring studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As the home of Leon Russell, J. J. Cale, and Shelter Records, Tulsa is a town with a serious musical heritage. The Closet Studio's founding producer and engineer Kendal Osborne has recorded scores of local rock, pop, and country artists, doing his part to keep the Tulsa legacy alive. He's acquired a beautiful array of vintage tube mics and amplifiers along the way, and the space itself is gracefully designed with a chandelier and lamps casting a warm glow in the live room. Even the acoustic panels and diffusers have an artistic flair.

Read below as Kendal walks us through the space and the gear of The Closet Studio.

This is my studio, the Closet Studios, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve been engineering and mixing records for about 11 years, and I’ve had this space for the last five years. It’s a great space. And after a lot of customizations I’ve done, I can run sessions smoothly and efficiently, which makes my life a lot easier.

I love working here. It’s not a huge space, but it works quite well.

The tracking room has high ceilings (13’ at the highest) and the walls were built non-parallel, so flutter isn’t an issue. A lot of the acoustic treatments I’ve built myself or had custom-built by GIK Acoustics. I need the space to work for all kinds of recordings, from big roomy rock drums to tight pop vocals, so I designed and built the space to be as versatile as possible.


Desk and Triple Rack Bay

This is the control room, as you can see. Studio furniture and studio desks are insanely expensive, so my friend and I built this desk and triple rack bay for under $400 total. The dimensions and layouts were modeled after products currently on the market for more than $1500 each. We built these out of birch and pine over one weekend, and they’ve been rock-solid ever since.


Barefoot MM27 Gen2

These are my pride and joy. I’ve been using Barefoots since 2011, and I don’t think I could ever go back. Every decision I make while engineering or mixing is influenced by what’s coming out of the speakers, so having accurate monitors in a well-treated control room is essential to me. If I’m being honest, I’d say they’re the most important piece of studio gear that I own.


Emerson Telecaster

This may be the rarest instrument I own. My brother-in-law is Mitch Ingram of Emerson Custom Guitars (creator of the EM-Drive, Paramount, Pomeroy), and before he made pedals, he was building custom guitars. He only built like seven or eight of them, and this is one of them. It’s a Thinline Telecaster with a big 1” boat neck with two humbuckers. It sounds killer.

Shortly after this guitar, he stopped making guitars and focused on designing and building pedals, so even though it’s not a vintage Goldtop or an old Martin, it’s still very rare and special to me.


Amp Patchbay

Here’s a handy device I built to make auditioning amps easier: a Head/Cab patchbay. All of the lines are wired with jacks and speaker cable (TIP: You can use heavy gauge lamp cord for speaker cable—it works great). I use 10” speaker cable jumpers to go between heads and cabs.

All you do is put the amp on standby, patch a head to a cab, flip the amp back on and you’re ready to roll. Never again do I have to move amps around or crawl behind them to patch in a guitar cabinet. This has made recording guitars so much easier.


Undertone MPEQ1

I’m a big fan of Eric Valentine and everything he does—I think he’s nothing short of brilliant. A while back, Eric designed this crazy custom console for himself with these amazing mic preamps and a six-band, fully variable parametric EQ on each channel. He then decided to make some of the channel strips and sell them to the public under his newly formed company, Undertone Audio. I was following this whole process online and I got in on the first limited run of 100, mine is serial #73.

The face of his console was made of this acoustically transparent porous metal, so he wouldn’t get reflections off the face of the console. They put that material on the first 100 units—so that’s what this sparkly gold stuff is. It’s absolutely my go-to mic preamp when I just need a solid single-channel pre for vocals, guitar, or bass. To my ear it sounds kind of like a Chandler or something. Very colorful and insanely versatile.


Microphones

I’m obsessed with microphones. I’ve probably got 50 to 55 microphones in my collection, and they all get used. At the end of the day, I think of them as my primary engineering tool, like a carpenter thinks of a hammer or a saw. Some old, some new, some acquired at the back door of an abandoned butcher shop… but that’s a long story. This is the Wunder CM67, and to my ear, it’s the closest thing on the market to the real 67. It gets used a lot around here—it’s one of my favorites.


Outboard Gear

I love using outboard gear in my workflow, because it allows me to get sounds closer to “finished” on the way in. It’s a big investment, and I’ve been slowly collecting pieces for the last 10 years, but to me, it’s totally worth it. My latest acquisition is the Chandler Zener Limiter, purchased right here on Reverb.


UREI LA3A

These are getting really hard to find. I bought this from a huge stash of John Haitt’s gear that was being sold here locally through one of his friends, kind of a weird story, but I got it for $1000 even, and then a month later, Universal Audio discontinued the LA3. These have shot up in price, now somewhere around $4000 used, but I use this thing a lot—sounds great on drums, vocals, acoustic guitar, really anything. Never seems to sound bad.


Line Level Pedalboard

This rackmounted pedalboard shelf is set up on the patchbay to operate at line level. From the patchbay I go to a Radial Reamper, to the pedals, to a Radial DI, to a preamp, then back to the patchbay.

This allows me to patch pedals after the microphone, allowing me to put them on vocals, drums, whatever, while tracking or in the mix. Super fun and great for quick inspiration for effects. I’ve also got a Demeter Real Spring Reverb and a Vermona Vintage Spring Reverb, both of which I found... on Reverb. Imagine that.

In terms of guitar routing for tracking, I use a Creation Audio Labs MW1 into two Radial SGIs, which allows the guitarist to be in the control room and the amps to be cranked up in the live room with basically no tone loss or degradation. The SGIs are amazing and every recording guitarist should have one.


Iso Booth/Guitar Room

This is my little guitar room/iso booth. We’ve got eight tie lines running into the booth for mics, headphones, whatever we need, and sometimes put amps or vocalists in here for isolation, but mostly it’s a place to put my guitar stuff.

I’ve got a lot of custom built guitars, some Gibson acoustics, a mandolin, a banjo, a dobro, a few basses, and more pedals than I know what to do with. I love having everything exposed and out of the case so a player can just pick up a guitar if they feel inspired or if they need to work out a specific part.


1930s/1940s Leedy 28x14 Bass Drum

This is a huge 28” Leedy Bass Drum, made sometime in the '30s or '40s. It’s all mahogany with maple hoops and single-tension brass lugs. I found this at Explorer’s Percussion in Kansas City—they gave me a great deal on it. Really love it for that big open John Bonham kick drum sound, or for a real organic boom. Typically works best when mic’d from the outside, and with the right mic, it sounds like thunder.


C&C Player Date II

This is one of my favorite drumkits ever made. Got it on Reverb as well—a walnut-finish C&C Player Date II. I know it’s not the fanciest kit out there, but I love how it sounds. To my ear it captures that midrange thing that vintage drums have—that poppy, thumpy thing that’s hard to pin down, and that many modern kits just don’t have. Originally I just bought the 3-piece kit (24/13/16), but then an 18” matching floor tom showed up on Reverb a few months later, so I bought that too.


Amp Wall/Mini Amp Collection

Being a guitarist, I love my guitar amps. In Tulsa, there’s this local amp guru named Bob Peck. He’s an electrical engineer who builds hand-wired tube amps from scratch, including the cabinetry and tolex work, and, simply put, they’re crazy good. I met him back in 2009, and we’ve been friends ever since.

He has built me a handful of custom amps and clones, like a hot-rodded Marshall JMP, a Tweed Deluxe, and a Dumble Overdrive Special. I really love these amps, as do my clients. It’s amazing to have an amp tech like him around—I can go in to his shop and plug in my guitars, and he'll tweak the amp to my liking right there as I’m trying different guitars and cabinets. Plus the name “Peckerhead” is too good to not have one, right?

I’ve also got a few classics like a 1966 Blackface Bassman and an ever-growing collection of mini amps. I love cranking those up and mic’ing them really, really close with a ribbon mic for a unique (and surprisingly big) tone. They can be cool as a layer up the middle between two hard panned guitars—just this nice, squashed, midrangey guitar that doesn’t get in the way of the vocal or drums.


That’s it. Thanks for taking a look at my space. For my info, you can check out my website here or listen to my Recording Lounge Podcast.

Photos by Emily Steward

Have you assembled an awesome music space that you want to show off? Contact us at showusyourspace@reverb.com


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