The size of steelbands (steel drum bands) varies. Pans (steel drums) can be played solo or in large steelbands. There is no set number of instruments or players. Some steel pan competitions like Panorama have bands with up to one hundred players!
But this is not typical. Most steelbands are usually much smaller.
The size of a steelband is determined by
Availability and ability of players
Space for rehearsals and storage
Availability of instruments
Purpose of band (to play at gigs, school functions, church etc.)
The following is a list of the more common steelband sizes. I have also included suggestions on which steel pans and how many of them you will need.
If you are unfamiliar with the sections and instruments in the steelband, I strongly recommend you read more on the Steel Pan Family before proceeding.
Steel pans, like any other instrument can be played solo. Frontline pans are the most common choices for solo performances
Duets - Usually 1 frontline and 1 mid-range or background pan
Trios - Usually 2 frontline pans and 1 mid-range or background pan
Quartets - Usually 2 frontline pans, 1 mid-range and 1 background pan
Quintets make good gig bands. All the sections are represented but the group is still small enough to be moved easily. Add an engine room and you have a compact gig band which can provide a full sound in a small space.
3 frontline pans
1 mid-range pan
1 background pan
Frontline pans - 3 tenors, 2 double tenors, 2 double seconds
Mid-range pans - 1 double guitar, 2 cellos (triple and/or four cello pan)
Background pans - 1 tenor bass, 1 six bass
Frontline pans - 6 tenors, 3 double tenors, 3 double seconds
Mid-range pans - 2 double guitars, 2 cellos (triple and/or four cello pan)
Background pans - 2 tenor basses, 2 six basses
Frontline pans - 8 tenors, 4 double tenors, 4 double seconds
Mid-range pans - 2 double guitars, 2 cellos (triple and/or four cello pan), 2 quadrophonics
Background pans - 4 tenor basses, 4 six basses