I've heard all sorts of good things about minstrels and I really like them on paper. I like the stats they focus on (will/vitality/fate). I like the combo of light armor with a shield, and since I planned on playing a dwarf my racial block bonus isn't -completely- useless (unlike on my dwarf hunter). I like the ranged tactical instant-cast damage (unlike my hunter's inductions). I'm not really interested in healing but I planned on this mainly being a solo character anyway, and war speech sounds like a pretty cool stance. I like the ability to self heal.
There's only one thing I don't like: the music. I created my character, entered the game, killed my first enemy with minor ballad, and logged back out. I just felt ridiculous damaging enemies by strum-strumming on my lute. I know this is dumb because "durrr it's a minstrel what did you think" but I just don't like the attack animations/sounds, even though I like everything else (such as play style).
Has anyone else felt this way but managed to get past it and enjoy the character? I kinda feel like maybe I should play a runekeeper instead as my light armor dwarf but 1) they're squishier, which is one thing I liked about the minstrel and 2) I don't have access to the runekeeper yet and I'd rather not spend TP on a class that I may not even like.
The music does seem a little odd for killing things, I admit. It works much better when you are healing (since you are actually raising morale, which is something music can do quite well). One thing I'd suggest trying is using a drum for your instrument. This will work well for your solo/warspeech plans, since the better drums typically provide offensive damage bonuses, but more importantly for you, it won't sound as much like music, more like well, hitting something (specifically hitting a drum, but hey maybe that's what hitting a goblin skull sound like too!)
If you do find yourself healing a group, you'll want to switch to a theorbo or something, but again, music is less strange when you're just encouraging your fellows.
So, I'd encourage you to push through the intro till you can talk to a bard and buy a drum and see how much it annoys you.
Another alternative is to turn off combat sounds, or completely mute game sounds all together (I'm not a fan of this, but some people do it)
For the new mini players, different instruments have different sounds. If you're put off by the sound of a harp or lute or clarinet, try a drum as a couple of people have suggested. Also, crafted instruments have extra stats which make them better for healing or dpsing. The two most common choices are drums for dps, with crafted drums doing extra damage, and theorbos for healing because crafted theorbos reduce the threat of your heals.
All healing generates threat/aggro in this game. If you're in a group and heal someone who is taking damage from a mob, you generate threat with that mob because of your heal. If that player is fighting several mobs at the same time, your heal generates threat with all of the mobs that player is fighting, so gear and skills that reduce your healing threat/aggro are useful.
New crafted instruments are available every 10 levels, but there is a gap at level 50 with a couple of instruments at level 51.
Here's a web site with all the crafted instruments up to level 60 (there's more at level 70 but the site hasn't been updated for those yet). http://lotro.northshield.co.uk/Class/minstrel.htm