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!)
Pro Mark RB595