The Bard is one of the most versatile classes in the game of Everquest. It can also be one of the most challenging to play, and for this reason is not a class that everyone will like and generally isn't recommended for a first character.
The strength of the Bard is in his songs, not his melee skills. Bards have several types of song classes similar to the types for the casting classes but are implemented quite differently. Beneficial songs can be either for the Bard only, the entire group or Area Effect. Detrimental songs are either single target, or Area Effect. You can use songs to make your group stronger, faster and more resistant to hostile magic. You can also slow down your enemies, poison them, set them on fire etc. depending on what you are fighting, the other classes within your group and the class levels. For instance a group that is not taking down targets quickly, your haste songs and damage over time songs will make everything go more smoothly for the group. You can also raise the regeneration rate for both the groups Health and Mana.
The Bard has melee skills somewhat like the Ranger, but somewhat less effective. Bards can wear plate armor, so they do have good protection in melee. They can use all weapon classes, although Bard usable Bows are fairly rare. They also have the use of instruments which will enhance the effects of their songs. Instrument effects are voice, string, percussion, wind, and brass. There is some minor overlap but most songs of a particular type tend to also use the same instrument, so which instruments you use can vary depending on play style, the group you are in or both. The smart Bard will usually be holding a weapon that has instrument effects. The Epic weapons for the Bard class implement all instrument effects.
Bards have the ability to 'twist' songs. This allows the player to have multiple song effects active at the same time. Most group effect songs have a casting/singing time of 3 seconds and a duration of 12 seconds, so keeping 4 effects going is a simple matter of cycling between 4 songs. You can either do this manually or use the Melody command within Everquest. The manual method is more versatile since you can change the songs you are using at any time. Melody will automatically cycle selected songs until you are interrupted. To change songs you stop the Melody you are using and start another one. It's recommended that the player set up several hotkeys for different Melodies in advance to cover most situations.
Playing the Bard in Everquest takes time to do well, but is worth the challenge in the end.