Strength and power with a sensation of flexibility are
classic characteristics of a fine French bow. Such
combination brings out the warmth of an instrument.
Stiffer bows are often easier to play at first while
being brighter in sound (yet more nasal). Fine
flexible bows are more subtle but allow a wider range
of expression and technique with no sacrificing power.
Rolland bows have this type of personality.
Another remarkable feature is their evenness. They are
responsive along the entire length of the bow. Every
stroke will be secure and stable. Sautillé, spiccatos,
and staccatos are easy to play.
The playability of a bow results from the critical
union of the wood’s inherent qualities and the
particular shape imposed upon it by the maker with the
tapering and the camber. Musicians often comment on
the “effortless” experience of playing with Rolland
bows, which enable them to negotiate long and
difficult pieces without fatigue. Benoît Rolland
indeed designs his bows to prevent stress on the arm
muscles. “Effortless” playing does not mean that the
bow is more compliant. It means that the player’s
energy, rather than being dissipated by the bow, is
transmitted straight to the music.
Rolland bows are designed for playing under a
medium hair tension. Over-tightening the hair will
drastically change their playability, degrading
In the recent years, Benoît Rolland focused his
research on the sound potential of the bows. Though it
is not an acoustic instrument, the bow plays an active
part into organizing the circulation of vibrations
between itself, the instrument and the body of the
performer. In addition to this mechanical function,
the wood stick has a sound of its own. Rolland
analyzed these factors and many others. He is now able
to predict the “sound” of a bow interplaying with an