Always pictured my bard's effects as non-detectable by mortal senses (minus the performance to make it work, that is), unless the effect is something that either affects the senses or produces something that would be picked up by normal human(-oid) capabilities. Under stuff like Detect Magic, though, little note-like motes dance around (to the Power of Rock~!) the target/effect. I imagine the other flavors of magic work along the same lines, but with more appropriate fluff.
So, I guess my answer is yes, they do indeed look the same, unless you're able to actually "see" the magic and not just its effect. Prolly the influence of Mage: the Ascension and The Dresden Files on how I view stuff like that, though, where each wizard's workings are unique to the individual.
(In a more Metal DnD, I'd totally buy the always-visible swirling energies and 'solid' magic blasted forth from the bard's +2 Axe~. And how awesome would an all-"bard" party be? Dethklok with swords: "We will make everything metal... Blacker than the blackest black, times infinity!")