Re: rods for lower volume?
I like the idea of changing sticks, like Bob suggested. A stick I like a lot for lower dynamic levels is the Vater Fusion. I'm a big guy with big hands. Small sticks make my hands cramp up, but this stick fills my hand up nicely yet I find it easy to play quietly with it. It has a long taper with a small round tip. I like thin cymbals, and I find the round tip gets a bit more stick definition at low dynamic levels. So maybe check out sticks with a long taper, like the Fusion or Vic Firth's American Jazz series to help you keep it down.
Mapex Saturn (they're out of this world!)
Vic Firth 2B
Yamaha 700 series hardware