Thanks for the suggestions:
The Hot Rod is tweakable at all levels. and high volume setting are not the same as low volume ... First, Try these settings at low volume. Bright switch on--> bass on 2 or 3 --> treble, mids and presence somewhere around 7-9. Second, a 50 watt Weber Load Dump is a very good attenuator that only cost $75. A huge benefit is, once you have your clean cheannel set and drive channel set, you use the load dump as an overall master.
I typically have the bright switch on, bass on 5, treble, mid, and presence on 7 -- pretty much like you have except the bass. I have been looking at the Weber and THD Hot Plates. I may still pick up a Weber if I can find one for the price you are talking about - that's not bad. I'd still be a little worried about over taxing something, but I've read enough to know not to run the amp wide open with one. Do you have a link for a proper Weber Dump?
I have been doing a lot of research on this and yes an attenuator is really the way
to go. Have you seen this site? http://studentweb.eku.edu/justin_holton/
Yeah, I've bookmarked that site - I'd hate to mod this limited edition amp though
Only 500 made which is another concern I have with adding an attenuator to it. Don't want to damage it.
Well, here's what I did today (also recently did Seymour Duncan PUs & Peavey amp) ... I bought an Electro-Harmonix Nano Pocket Metal Muff pedal.
I have an MXR Distortion III and, like many say, it is more like an overdrive pedal - it sounds fantastic with a volume of maybe 2.5 to 4.0, but less than 2 it's just not going to do right with this amp.
I went to the store and tried a HR Deluxe on the clean channel with the Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal -- there were three of us in the room and we all agreed that sounded aweful (still with a 2 on volume). Then we tried the Electro-Harmonix Nano ... awesome.
That does the job without having to over tax the transformer or tubes - perhaps its not exactly "tube distortion" (which I prefer) but no doubt about it, I can now play with a volume of 1 or 2 without any problems. Now the HR Deluxe has the "sound" that I was expecting for Dio, Iron Maiden, etc.
I don't think it is quite as good as the tubes breaking up on a volume level of 3 or 4, but it is close - a bit more 'metal' sounding than what you'd get from the tubes alone. The overdrive pedals just wasn't adding the distortion and there simply was no way to get that tube sound without cranking the amp up.
So, a pretty cheap non-taxing solution for something other than blues tones, you could get a 'metal' pedal and put it on the clean channel up front and dial the pedal back or turn it up -- the volume is perfect ... pretty much what I'd think 90% of those having troubles are looking for.
Glad that's over! LOL