I'm very happy for you that eventually did bond with this amp. I understand why you gravitate to 53 and lean. A LP sounds best in this configuration. However for single coil guitars like my Tele, Strat, or Rickenbacker 330, the 58 and lush is the way to go!
This amp is crazy loud. The suggested Bonamassa settings are not possible in a smaller setting (like my basement). The 12AY7 certainly did not sound bad ... it just took longer to break up. It's a great sounding amp with either preamp tube.