I had an Epson 1200 "perfection" 3 generations before yours Nicole; which I had difficulty getting good results from using the Epson scanner software. Grain seemed to be enhanced by the Epson USM being enabled.
By switching to Vuescan at www.hamrick.com
(full free working demo downloadable) I reckon that I doubled the performance of this scanner. At $99 for pro-version you get unlimited upgrades and the ability to fully colour manage, it works for just about any scanner worth its salt. It is fully transferable should you change scanners in the future. I like the ability to save set-ups that you use often. These can be easily amended if necessary. It is not everyone's cup of tea, since you add numbers to boxes rather than use a more graphical interface. Suggest a Google search on Vuescan to get other testimonies. The Help manual could do with improvement, but it is worth persisting with.
Personally although I tried hard with Silverfast, even reading all 380 pages in the manual(and still not winning the anorak!) I felt it lacked the control I was able to get with Vuescan. That said, there are many serious affictionados of Silverfast who get great results.
Vuescan has a batch option where you can calibrate for filmbase+fog to get everything optimised for that film. I only ever scan one shot at a time.
Try misaligning the shot on purpose for the preview if the rebate not visible in the holder. This enables you to sample from the rebate to set a true black point. Ensure white point is not burning out.
Concur using 16 bit.
You will need to "capture sharpen" which is only a tiny amount. Use Photoshop or plug-ins available for this since you have more control. Other sharpening takes place prior to output.
This is a huge subject please forgive my brevity.
I realise that I forgot to mention two salient points for justifying my claim to double performance.
First - Multi-sampling where the scan does the number of passes you choose (I found 3 fine) it then averages readings which significantly reduces noise in the shadows and extracts better shadow detail, yielding an effective increase in DMax.
Secondly - ability to save the RAW files separately which can be reprocessed in Photoshop should the need arise, without the hassle of mounting and physically scanning the negs again.
Finally, I was able to do ICC calibration with an IT8 target to enable far better colour accuracy with tranny films.
I read somewhere that either ICE or GEM doesn't like silver in films which is why it doesn't work with B+W films other than XP2 etc.
Hope this was helpful.