This paper presents a technique to vary the electric field within a cylindrical ion trap (CIT) mass spectrometer while it is in operation. In this technique, the electrodes of the CIT are split into number of mini-electrodes and different voltages are applied to these split-electrodes to achieve the desired field. In our study we have investigated two geometries of the split-electrode CIT. In the first, we retain the flat endcap electrodes of the CIT but split the ring electrode into five mini-rings. In the second configuration, we split the ring electrode of the CIT into three mini-rings and also divide the endcaps into two mini-discs. By applying different potentials to the mini-rings and mini-discs of these geometries we have shown that the field within the trap can be optimized to desired values. In our study, two different types of fields were targeted. In the first, potentials were adjusted to obtain a linear electric field and, in the second, a controlled higher order even multipole field was obtained by adjusting the potential. We have shown that the different potentials required can be derived from a single RF generator by connecting appropriate capacitor terminations to split electrodes. The field within the trap can be modified by changing the values of the external capacitors. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.