i bought my girlfriend a cheap china-made folk-acoustic (renaissance). i got it for 130 CDN. its pretty solid, looks like a decently-built guitar for the price (i saw alot cheaper ones for 100 dollars which i definitely was not buying). unfortunately, even after i tuned it i get a rattling in the strings, mostly when it is being strummed. the strings are pretty close to the fretboard. is it most likely just the strings that need changing? i dont want to change the strings for it if i dont have to

Rattling... as in buzzing... hitting the frets when strummed?

If so, it probably needs a setup. Sadly, most new guitars also need their strings replaced.
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or the neck straightened might help. id' change the strings anyway tho you don't know how long they've been on there, other people's oily hands on it etc...
I'd try changing the strings first. Has happened to me more than once. Do that then look at setup to see how low/high the action is and make/have made the necessary adjustments.

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hey i think the problem is definitely the action being too low. could i adjust the setup myself or should i just get the store to do it
Dave, DEFINITELY replace the strings...always a good idea with a new guitar. This alone isn't likely to help with the rattle or buzz, though.

You need to determine (possibly with the help of the people that sold it to you) whether its a RATTLE, as in some part of the guitar is loose, or a BUZZ from the plucked string hitting the frets...I'm going to guess that it is the latter, in which case a simple neck adjustment should correct it.

Hopefully, there is someone at the store who is competent to do this...they should do it no charge. Basically, they just need to increase the neck relief enough that the strings clear the frets when played.

I would also recommend that you get them to re-string while they're at it...with a set of Light gauge acoustic. If you really want to make this nice to play, have them use Elixer strings, but don't let them charge you more than $15 for them.
i had that with my rogue. one of the nuts on one of the tuners was loose. we tightened it and that was that. it could also be one of the ends of the strings vibrating against the head.

i agree with maxtheaxe that you need to determine whether it's buzzing or rattling. if it's buzzing and you need higher action, it could be the neck relief or the saddle or/and nut could be too low. or whoever is playing it could be strumming it too hard.
i think its definitely the action being too low... should i make a trip to the store and get him to raise it for me or can i do this myself without screwing the guitar up? haha

and i guess i will replace the strings, i was just really against it bc of the cost (im a college student and any money for strings goes to me haha)