Zak once explained that bards suck, mostly because "playing the lute" is a secondary skill, not an adventuring skill. Plus, people who play bards either want to show off their poetic or singing talents (or worse, play the drums) or get stuck with a GM who forces them to do so, in the insane belief that slowing down play improves the adventure.
But I think we can salvage the bard with the "without spells" paradigm.
Concept: The quick-witted, silver-tongued rogue who relies on influencing others: Felimid Mac Fal, Jurgen, Joan of Arc, only one of which is a musician.
XP/HD: Experience as Cleric. Hit Dice as original Magic-User (1 HD every other level,) but saving throws are as Thief.
Weaponry and Armor: Limited to weapons purchased when character is created. Must train (use spell research) to add additional weapon skills. Heavy armor prevents thief abilities, and helms or any other face covering prevents bardic voice abilities.
Abilities: Thief abilities (excluding surprise attack) and the ability to pacify or charm creatures using just the voice. Calm intelligent or semi-intelligent non-supernatural living creatures with a Turn Undead roll, using the creature's HD as a guideline; for a temporary charm, the target HD is the lower of the creature's HD or the spell level (1 for Charm Person, 4 for Charm Monster.) This can only be attempted once per creature per encounter, and only last for an hour (or less, if the bard leaves the creature's presence.) If the bard is three levels higher than the creature's HD, the creature can become a permanent follower, but the bard can't have more followers/henchmen than indicated by Charisma. Creatures that don't understand the bard's language can't be charmed, but other emotional effects (and Hold Person) can be used as long as the creature can hear the bard's voice, or a substitute (musical instrument.)
Bards can use any magical item usable by a thief, or any item associated with charming others or affecting emotions.
(EDIT: Changed the HD progression. As mentioned in the comments below, the thievish Bard should be more like a pre-Greyhawk Thief or a Delving Deeper Thief, with one ability dropped and the charm ability in its place. An alternative would be a warrior Bard that progresses exactly like a Cleric, uses any one-hand melée weapon or any armor, plus the charm ability.)