Okay, friends...allow me to humble myself publicly. Over the past couple of days, the problem with the Q-tron+ gain began to morph into a problem with the whole rig losing its mojo. I'm scratching my head, thinking WTF??! After much puzzling and pulling and testing, it occurred to me: It's the BATTERY idiot! Yep, the battery had been slowly losing its power, first thing to go was the Q-tron sensitivity, then clarity of the cleans, then volume altogether. Now, I've been running my Moriarty Wolf for almost a year now and am on my 3rd battery. In my defense, the others died out without me experiencing it (forgot and left plugged in, so easy to forget). I guess I had somehow thought that the buffer would basically do it's job and then just kind of die out in a single "poof" -- who knows why I assumed this.
Anyway, I threw in a new 9-volt, powered up and the rig was suddenly louder than all hell (lost volume found), tone was recovered, and I flipped on the Q-tron+ and dialed in something much better with gain about 9-10 o'clock (still have to work it a little higher for my non-buffered strat, though those pickups are pretty far away relatively). It's still not perfect and always so touch-sensitive, but I think Problem Solved, more or less.
Thanks for those who offered tips...and sorry for being completely clueless!!!