Born in 1916 to parents from the Brant Lake area, George Pratt was the only fiddler in his immediate family. According to the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association, he was a shy, modest man who worked as a carpenter by trade and claimed that fiddling was the only other thing he was good at. George lived much of his life in the Warren County area between Bolton and Warrensburg, developing a reputation for “knowing more fiddle tunes than anyone else in the Adirondacks.”
Pratt learned his music both by ear and from the written page. He referred to his own fiddle playing as “Canadian style,” which he said had come down from Canada with loggers working in the area. His grandfather George Hill had worked in the woods in the Newton area with Canadians, and in later years Pratt’s mother would whistle Grandpa’s fiddle tunes to George. Other early influences included great uncle Pete Pratt from Bolton Landing and neighbor Frank Smith in Riverbank. George and Frank would spend summer evenings on Smith’s front porch playing together.
George strove for a clean, polished sound with his playing, envying local players such as Jerry Potter and Guy LaPelle who played “real smooth.” His most requested tune when playing for dances was “Grey Eagle,” though he was quick to point out that it was an entirely different tune from the southern Appalachian piece of the same name. Pratt played an Amati fiddle with a tiger maple back, found in an attic in Northville and purchased from a friend.